Al Fajar Al Alamia Co. SAOG, previously known as Hajar Explosives, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Turning forty is a major milestone for any organization… for me, it is not so much a festivity, but a solemn occasion to pause and contemplate on this long 40-year journey.
Together with my wife Maryam Zawawi, I arrived in Oman in 1975 after 25 years in India with Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI India). For my wife it was a homecoming, for me it was an eye opener. The first thing I had to do was start earning a living, but all my experience was industrial and Oman at that time lived on trading. By good fortune, one of the earliest activities was road making, especially in Dhofar, and two companies active in the field were Bedrock and Lavori with explosives manufactured by Swedish companies. ICI Nobel’s Explosives, at that time the largest explosives company in the world, jumped at the chance of business in Oman and by 1979, we built two explosives magazines with 150-tonne storage capacity and a 3,000-tonne ANFO plant (branded Hajarex) at Al Hajar in the foothills of Hajar mountains, on an ICI design and operated by companies formed for the purpose under the name of Hajar Explosives Trading Co. (HETCO) and Hajar Explosives Manufacturing Co. (HEMCO). All the other primary and secondary explosives products were imported from ICI Nobel’s Explosives.
taking over both HETCO and HEMCO, offering shares for public issue through the Muscat Securities Market.
As part of our expansion plans and to improve profitability and reduce dependency on outside suppliers, in 2003 we commissioned our own emulsion explosives plant, superior in quality to the slurry explosives that we imported. The plant has a licenced capacity of 3,500 tpa, and can produce sizes between 25mm and 115mm.
Our goal has always been to expand the footprint of the company and between 2010 and 2013, under the forward integration plans, Al Fajar Al Alamia acquired four rock drilling & blasting companies, i.e. Techrock, Techdrill, Al Andalos and Al Musdaq.
Most recently we had the great fortune to be associated with Fujairah Holding to set up ANFO manufacturing and industrial explosives storage facilities in the Emirate of Fujairah, under the name of Geodynamics MidEast LLC. This venture will allow Techdrill to have an in-house explosives supplier that would instantly improve their bottom-line and add tremendous value to the Group. In addition, this facility will enable us to develop the much-needed export business.
Continuing with the forward integration plans, the Group has decided to venture into the mining, earth moving and rock quarrying sectors as well, and is planning to enter the gypsum and limestones industry in the very near future. We are also planning to enter the African continent with our industrial explosives and rock drilling & blasting capabilities. We are also considering backward integration, i.e. to establish raw material plants, crimping plant for detonators, etc. that, I am sure, will come to fruition in the coming years.
The company is certified to ISO 9001:2015, 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 certified.
Our growth has been possible only because of the wise and long-term vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and I offer my humble and sincere thanks to this visionary leader. The Royal Oman Police controls the industrial explosives use in the Sultanate in a very professional manner, and I thank them for their continued guidance and support. Our valuable customers have been the bedrock for our growth and no words can be enough to thank them for their unstinted trust in us, thank you so much for your continued patronage. I would like to thank all the other stakeholders, members of our Board, service providers, etc. for their contribution in making our dream come true.
The human story is equally interesting: after recruiting CEOs from abroad and finding them unable to understand Omani conditions we found we had the ideal candidate in our own company, a man who joined as a junior assistant 33 years ago, and as CEO has led the company from strength to strength, thank you Sreekumar Nair.
I would like to pay tribute to my late wife, Maryam Zawawi for her support, friends and colleagues who supported me in establishing this company, some of whom we honour in their memory. I also thank all the employees of the Group who have loyally served the company over many years.
Mr. Brian William Ritchie
Founder and Deputy Chairman Al Fajar Al Alamia Co. S.A.O.G
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