INDUSTRY INSIGHTThought Leadership

COVID and sustainability: Emerging stronger

Dr. Faisal Al-Faqeer, CEO, Sadara, speaks to GPCA Insight about the chemical industry’s contribution to combat the coronavirus pandemic over the last 12 months, including the role his company played in supporting the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia. He also highlights Sadara’s continuous commitment to sustainability through various programs and initiatives and the recognition it has received in recent years.

When do you expect markets to recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and what would this recovery look like in the short to mid-term?

The coronavirus pandemic caused serious disruptions in the industrial world last year, including in global chemical markets. Fortunately, thanks to strict health precautions, appropriate lockdowns by the local government and the development of effective vaccines, the situation is improving globally in 2021. Chemical markets worldwide should be in much better shape by the summer of this year. As normal life returns in many countries, business as usual should be the order of the day, particularly in Europe, North America and the Far East. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia itself is recovering quite well, and Sadara has participated in that recovery.


In your view what was the role of the chemical industry in helping the world combat the virus? And equally, what are the lessons learned?

The chemical and plastic industries have always played important roles in the health sector, for example, in the production of testing tubes, face masks, protective clothing, face shields and many medical applications and accessories. Clearly, industrial companies like Sadara play numerous roles in developing and enabling products for many aspects of everyday life and for the global economy in general.

Sadara and Sipchem have cooperated recently to produce and purify ethanol to support the kingdom’s efforts against COVID-19. Tell us more about this initiative and the impact it created.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Sadara has worked hard to protect the local community in Jubail, the Eastern Province and the kingdom at large, in keeping with health guidelines set forth by the government. Last year, Sadara partnered with our peer company, Sipchem, to produce high-quality ethanol. Over three months, about 100 tons of purified ethanol were produced at Sadara and provided for free to local manufacturers of hand sanitizers. Over 100,000 liters of sanitizers were enabled by those manufacturers and provided free of charge to the Ministry of Health for use in countering the pandemic.


Sadara is the world’s largest chemicals complex built in a single phase and one of the region’s most successful chemical JVs. How would you assess the company’s journey to date, and what are your plans for taking it to new heights and expanding into new markets?

Sadara is a unique alliance between two corporate leaders – Saudi Aramco and The Dow Chemical Company. Our parent companies have been brought together by their shared values and by a dedicated vision to create a chemical industry game changer. We began full commercial operations at our chemical complex in Jubail in 2017.

The following year, we successfully passed the 60-day Creditors Reliability Test (CRT) on the first attempt – an important milestone in our growth and proof of the high level of performance that Sadara will continue to show the world. In 2019, Sadara became the first Saudi Aramco joint venture to secure Responsible Care® certification, showing our commitment to sustainability, safety and the environment.

And last year we won local content certification, indicating our commitment to the economic diversification and downstream development of Saudi Arabia in alignment with the kingdom’s Vision 2030. Also, we have accepted the Saudi Aramco President’s Joint Venture Excellence Award for our company’s outstanding asset availability. We intend to continue along this road, achieving corporate milestones and sustainable growth in service to the Kingdom.

You’ve recently adopted Operation Clean Sweep®, becoming the first GCC company to sign the pledge since GPCA championed the initiative in the region. Why is the program important to Sadara and how do you plan to fulfil your commitment to sustainability and the environment in the coming years?

Sadara’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection was demonstrated from its earliest stages, in the design of its facilities and its continual support for the community in which it operates. Operation Clean Sweep® is one example of this. Sadara played a major role in supporting GPCA’s OCS certification effort, and we were a leader in our region in pledging to implement the OCS initiative.

This national achievement of first-of-its-kind certification recognizes Sadara’s enduring commitment to sustainability and environmental protection in its operations regionally and internationally. It also results in an increase in the company’s operational efficiency due to the reduction of waste in production processes. Sadara is committed to applying the best international environmental standards and practices, educating its supply chain partners and sharing best management practices in environment, safety and sustainability, and will continue to show leadership in this area.