19/03/2018 07:26 AST

Milaha (Qatar Navigation) will undertake selective international expansion and cost optimisation with a plan to strengthen the domestic operations this year as part of strategies to generate higher returns for shareholders, its top official said yesterday.

“We will intensify our efforts in 2018 and beyond based on our strategic plan,” Milaha chairman Sheikh Ali bin Jassim bin Mohamad al-Thani said, addressing the shareholders at the annual general assembly meeting.

Milaha remains strong financially, and it will continue to invest for the future, and further increase its capabilities to meet customer requirements, he said. Among its strategic milestones in 2017 was the launching of QTerminals – the ports and terminals operator – jointly with Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar) to manage the first phase of Hamad Port. The port has achieved record numbers in cargoes and volumes handled in 2017 as post-blockade seaborne trade almost tripled from previous averages.

Following the start of the blockade against Qatar last June, Milaha diligently and immediately mobilised its resources to ensure the flow of trade from and to Qatar, Sheikh Ali said.

“We quickly launched new and direct shipping routes between Qatar and Kuwait, Oman, India, Pakistan, and Turkey to mitigate the impact on Qatar’s supply chain. Additionally, we launched on-the-ground logistics operations in Oman. I am extremely proud of the adaptability and resilience shown by the company to abrupt market changes and changes in customer requirements,” Sheikh Ali said.

Abdulrahman Essa al-Mannai, president and chief executive of Milaha, said the company proved its mettle in handling the repercussions of the Gulf crisis as it was able to take swift and effective measures to ensure continuity of business for its clients, partners and Qatar, by launching new direct routes in the Arabian Gulf, Turkey, and the Indian subcontinent.

“With the implementation of our multi-year growth strategy underway, we will continue to unlock new efficiencies within our business units and tap into new markets to invest in the future of the company,” he said, adding “we started seeing some signs of recovery in the global shipping industry – a trend which we expect to continue in 2018.”

Milaha had also soft launched the first phase of Milaha Logistics City, which marks its entry into cold chain solutions. The new facility will enhance Milaha’s standing as a leading provider of logistic services as well as Qatar’s position as a vital regional hub for maritime shipping and logistics.

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