Abdullah Shamsan: “The most important thing for  investments is economic stability.” [Archives:1997/43/Business & Economy]

October 27 1997

Mr. Abdulllah Abdussalam Shamsan is the general director of the National Beverage Company – Canada Dry. Shamsan, 28, was born in Taiz and received his higher education in the USA. Bin Sallam of Yemen Times met Mr. Shamsan and filed this interview.
Q: How do you evaluate the commercial experience of the Shamsan and Sons Group of Companies? A: Thanks to the government’s help and despite the competition that face a soft-drinks company in Yemen, Shamans’s commercial experience is very successful. The problems we face at the moment are due to the soft drinks imported into Yemen, especially from Saudi Arabia. These products are flooding the market.
Q: Tests have shown that these products are below the required standards. How come they provide a strong competition to you products? A: The soft drinks are shipped from Saudi Arabia in ordinary, unrefrigerated trucks. The sun’s heat is bound to turn them bad. The products are also held up for some time at the customs point making some of them expire.  
Q: Do you market all that is produced per day? Do you operate the factory at full capacity? A: We market all that is produced, but we use about 50 to 60% of the factory’s capacity. There is some competition from local and foreign products.  
Q: There are rumors that the Canada Dry company has problems with some tribes. Is this true? A: We face many problems, but we try to solve them in peaceful and amicable ways. The reason for the dispute is that they ask for a higher rent and threaten to close the factory for the silliest of reasons. Sometimes it is difficult to deal with them, so we just tell them to do as they please and inform the authorities.  
Q: Have the authorities not been able to solve these disputes? A: The security authority is very helpful, but they try to avoid a direct conflict. A day’s stoppage costs us million of riyals so we try to solve all problems peacefully.  
Q: But for how long will this state of affairs go on?  A: The only solution is for the government to support locally produced good, as much as possible.  
Q: What are the future projects for the Shamsan Group of Companies? A: There are 2 or 3 projects being studied currently. There is a possibility that a new factory will be Aden or do an integrated production in Sana’a. We’ll receive the studies within 2 months and decide accordingly. It is necessary to study the area and the people’s conditions. The current factory area was chosen for the availability of water which is necessary for the beverage industry. Ours used to be the only factory in the area.
Q: How do you evaluate the atmosphere for investment in Yemen? A: I believe that investment in Yemen has a bright future, provided that ample protection is provided by the state. I am not saying that there is no protection, but there must be more. Upon facing the problems we face, a non-Yemeni investor would just turn back and go.
Q: How do you explain that many Arab and foreign investors are staying away from Yemen?  A: Most of the Arab and foreign investors I met are quite optimistic regarding investment opportunities. The may face some difficulties at the beginning, but they remain optimistic. All routine problems can be solved.  
Q: What can the state do to reduce bureaucracy? A: The most important thing is peace and security.  
Q: Any last comment? A: We hope that the government will continue helping and encouraging investment projects and protecting the national industry.