“Whatever company you are in Abu Dhabi, if they develop UAE nationals, it is like a plus for them,” says Arafat Al Yafei . Ravindranath K / The National
“Whatever company you are in Abu Dhabi, if they develop UAE nationals, it is like a plus for them,” says Arafat Al Yafei . Ravindranath K / The National

A partnership with rich benefits

Arafat Al Yafei speaks with a trace of a French accent, the evidence of his years studying in Paris and working at the oil giant Total.

Now he manages the emirate's toughest engineering projects for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). But he maintains close ties with his old employer.

"The most important thing is the relationship," Mr Al Yafei says. "You have to create the bridge. Your technology's there, and different companies have different technologies, but do you have the relationship?"

For decades, Total has cultivated its ties with Abu Dhabi by investing in many of the emirate's strategic projects, from building a natural gas pipeline to turning crude into fertiliser for farms.

Now it is showcasing another field of investment - people.

Total and its competitors are jockeying for position as Abu Dhabi prepares to redistribute the rights to its oilfields. In two years, Total's 9.5 per cent slice in Abu Dhabi's biggest onshore concession expires. Total shares that concession with ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Portugal's Partex. Soon thereafter, stakes in the emirate's main offshore operator and four other Adnoc companies will expire.

Little wonder, then, that Total and the other majors are keen to prove that their partnerships - some of them nearly 75 years old - have been valuable for the emirate.

"Whatever company you are in Abu Dhabi, if they develop UAE nationals, it is like a plus for them," Mr Al Yafei says.

Total writes a US$5 million (Dh18.3m) cheque every year to the Petroleum Institute, Adnoc's engineering university, and sends high-achieving Emiratis to study in France as part of a scholarship programme for resource-rich nations.

Louai Machhour, the former business and capabilities development manager for Total ABK in Abu Dhabi [he left in August, and is now posted in Paris as regional geologist], describes the philanthropy as part of the company mission.

"For us this is an obligation, and we do it without any conditions," Mr Machhour says. "We do it because we think it's our responsibility to develop the people in the country where we work and where we take benefit also."

Implicit is that the trainees eventually join the state oil company, bringing private-sector knowledge to Abu Dhabi and providing the foreign companies with a valuable connection on the ground.


Uefa Champions League final:

Who: Real Madrid v Liverpool
Where: NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium, Kiev, Ukraine
When: Saturday, May 26, 10.45pm (UAE)
TV: Match on BeIN Sports

Famous left-handers

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The specs: 2019 Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupe

Price, base: Dh201,153
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Power: 204hp @ 5,800rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 1,600rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 6.7L / 100km


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

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Source: Emirates


Centre Court

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Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

The specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl turbo

Power: 217hp at 5,750rpm

Torque: 300Nm at 1,900rpm

Transmission: eight-speed auto

Price: from Dh130,000

On sale: now


Favourite book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Holiday choice: Anything Disney-related

Proudest achievement: Receiving a presidential award for foreign services.

Family: Wife and three children.

Like motto: You always get what you ask for, the universe listens.

Traits of Chinese zodiac animals

Tiger:independent, successful, volatile
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Dragon:prosperous, brave, rash
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