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Working the Smart Way - The Business Year Sharjah 2020

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By: Sahil Gandhi (COO, Unique Group) 
Published in "The Business Year Sharjah 2020"

What are the operations and main achievements of Unique Group?
Founded in Sharjah in 1993, Unique Group is a leading integrated solutions provider for the oil and gas, renewables, subsea and defence industries. The group operates through its seven main divisions: Survey Equipment, Marine & Subsea, Diving & Life Support, Buoyancy & Ballast, On-Site Engineering, Specialised Boats and Medical Technology. As a group, we have been able to continually make global investment amid the downturn, whilst diversifying our products. Our investment in equipment and new technologies has resulted in the widening of the services we provide to our customers.

Which of Unique Group’s divisions are the most profitable?
We take a smart approach to our divisional work, ensuring we provide bespoke, turnkey solutions for our clients by combining the services our various divisions supply. In offering a complete, in-house service, we provide significant time and cost savings across the board, as well as simplified client communication channels. We strive to keep our current assets running and operationally excellent, regardless of the complexity of ongoing projects.

What are the biggest challenges in Sharjah?
Over the past five years, the Sharjah government has invested tremendous amounts and has developed a truly unique value proposition. As a result, attracting talent to Sharjah is no longer difficult. However, the challenges we now face are similar to those experienced in other regions, such as high administrative costs and cash flow. Payment collection under the current market situation is strenuous and one of our major hurdles to overcome as we continue to grow.

In which region are you looking to expand?
Business development in Saudi Arabia is key for us in the coming years. The opportunities are vast and it is a great time to help our customers through all our business units. We currently have several interesting projects ongoing in the region. Latin America is a market of interest and we have entered into Mexico and Brazil as a part of our expansion strategy. Expansion in Europe, via our base in the Netherlands, as we look to expand our presence in the offshore wind sector.

How would you evaluate the human talent in Sharjah?
As per a report by FDI Intelligence, Sharjah has been ranked among the top 10 small and medium sized cities in the world. We have been operating out of the UAE for 25 years and employ more than 300 people in this region. Most of our employees are technical people, with a qualified industry background relevant to our business; we clearly continue to attract the right talent in the region. We have a diverse spread of employees and employ talent from across the globe. We have also been focused on in-country value and providing opportunities to young Emiratis as well.

What are your digitalisation efforts?
We aim to digitise our operations, fundamentally providing helpful information for both ourselves and our clients. We are also working to improve the levels of automation in our product lines and recently launched our very own USV, Uni-Cat, a fully automated product designed for survey operations.

What are your goals over the coming year?
Our goal has not changed since year one. That goal is growth and adding value to our customers and stakeholders. We want to continue to add new technologies, especially in the clean energy space. We also want to grow internally as an organisation, where our processes get better and leaner, and we increase diversity along with our knowledge base. We want to deliver to our customers an even better product or technology that is not only future-proof but also environmentally friendly.

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