Saudia Cargo and Africa:Time-tested partnership sustaining economies

Published: Monday, March 11, 2019

2018 was a busy year for Saudia Cargo and the trend is likely to continue in the coming months and years as Saudi Arabia initiates more economic reforms requiring reliable transportation on air and on the

Away from home, the Saudi national cargo carrier is also a very important economic enabler in Africa where several emerging markets are heavily dependent on its air freight expertise to transport products to Europe and elsewhere.  

Air freight, is of course, the fastest and the safest mode of transport that connects cities, countries and continents within just hours, enabling industries to provide employment and sustainable economy for their
host countries.

In Kenya, for instance, Saudia Cargo flies nine scheduled freighters between Nairobi and Amsterdam carrying cut stem flowers, mostly roses, freshly harvested from flower farms. Charter flights are added on seasonal basis when demand for flowers is extremely high like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, among other important global occasions. Flowers are Kenya ‘sto p export employing indirectly and directly about 2 million people.

“It was a very good year for us,” Amer Nimer Abu Obeid, Executive Director Commercial Global at Saudia Cargo, described 2018. “To Saudia Cargo, 2018 was all about efficiencies and capitalization on existing networks and existing assets that we have. We operated less planes but more volumes.”

Less freighters dispatched while increasing cargo volumes meant reduced operational costs with maximum profits.
Apart from Kenya, Saudia Cargo also serves Johannesburg in South Africa, Sudan’s capital Khartoum and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, both for freighters and belly-hold cargo capacity.

“Africa is a very important market for us,” said Abu Obeid. “We have been here for over 10 years and we’re
still growing and we operate extra flights during high season like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.” And while some companies may have concerns over safety and security issues in Africa, Saudia Cargo
  never had any problems with that.

As Saudi Arabia lays the ground for its ambitious Vision 2030 initiative,the demand for Saudia Cargo to provide fast and efficient air transport for various industries is heightened, something that Abu Obeid and the entire company are excited about.

“The whole country is transforming,” says Abu Obeid. “It’s moving forward with lightning speed and as the cargo carrier of the national government, we have to be the logistics catalyst in the Middle East. We’re very excited with a lot of things changing.”

The Saudi 2020 Strategic Transformation Plan, in line with the Saudi 2030 Vision, aims to turn Saudi Arabia
into a leading freight and logistics hub in the region.

A multi billion investment plan supports this goal that will provide Saudia Cargo with new facilities across several major cities in the kingdom.

Africa is a very important market for us.We have been here for over 10 years and we’re still
-Amer Nimer Abu Obeid, Executive Director Commercial Global at Saudia Cargo

From banking to cargo

An economics graduate at Yarmouk University in Jordan, Amer Nimer Abu Obeid began his career as a banker with the ANZ Grindlays Bank where he stayed for five years before deciding to switch to the more dynamic logistics and air freight industry.

At DHL, the world’s largest logistics and freight company, Abu Obeid first served as Area Sales Manager for over two years in Saudi Arabia before becoming the National Sales Manager.

He stayed at DHL for 10 years before making a leap to Saudia Cargo in 2009 as Sales Director Cargo.

At Saudia, Abu Obeid grew further  his career becoming the Sales Director for Middle East, North Africa & Turkey. He eventually became the Regional Director for Europe that required him to be based in Germany for more than two years.

Now the Executive Director Commercial Global at Saudia Cargo based out of the company’s headquarters in Jeddah, Abu Obeid has greater responsibilities that binds him to constantly travel overseas.

But that doesn’t bother Abu Obeid who says there’s never a boring day in the cargo industry. It’s dynamic, there’s constant action and all are interconnected somehow.

“There are no boring days in cargo. Everyday there’s a new challenge.For example, a volcano may have erupted and that affects your business out of Bangladesh. You don’t know when you start the day and you don’t know when it would end. Everyday there is something new,” said Abu Obeid.

And with Saudia Cargo expected to take a leading role in pushing for the kingdom’s economic reforms, Abu Obeid is up for even more exciting times.

“The potential of Saudia Cargo is unlimited with vision, speed and investments on its own assets. I’m so excited being a part of this winning team,” Abu Obeid concludes.