Saudi Arabia is basically known for one thing; oil. However, there is a growing awareness of sustainability issues in the country, says Citec’s new Saudi Manager Floris van Straaten.
Floris van Straaten
- Position at Citec: General Manager for Citec Saudi
- Before Citec: Various positions at Pöyry in the Middle East and Switzerland
- Family: A Finnish wife and two children aged 12 and 15
The Middle Eastern market has in recent times become a special focus area for Citec. In 2016, Citec established a company in Saudi Arabia and at the end of that year, Floris van Straaten was appointed General Manager for Citec Saudi. His job is now to develop Citec’s business in the region.
“When entering the market in Saudi Arabia, the steps are clearly defined. First you have to be qualified before you can start tendering for projects, a process that involves a lot of documentation and paperwork. During spring 2017, we have been qualified for a dozen companies”, says van Straaten.
Before joining Citec, van Straaten spent a couple of years in the Middle East working for consulting company Pöyry. Thanks to his earlier career, he has developed a great insight into the region’s culture.
“Before I went to Saudi Arabia for the first time, I thought it might be a bit dangerous. But I have learnt that the country is really very safe; you can leave your wallet on the table and no one will take it. The Saudi people are friendly and welcoming, and you can count on their word. The culture is heavily dependent on relationships, which means you have to invest time in getting to know people.”
During the years he has lived in the region, van Straaten has watched the Saudi society become more open. Women increasingly participate in working life, which is also in line with the government’s goals. And what’s more, people are ever more aware of the fact that fossil fuels will eventually run out.
“The government is well aware of the fact that the country needs to become less dependent on the oil industry.”
“I have witnessed a clear change in the perception of sustainability issues. A few years back everybody was driving big SUVs, but now you only see smaller cars in the streets. At the same time, subsidies for fossil fuels are decreasing. The government is well aware of the fact that the country needs to become less dependent on the oil industry.”
Because of the climate and the geography, solar power is a natural solution in Saudi Arabia. Van Straaten points out that Saudi Arabia has a clear advantage in the fact that Western companies have already been doing a lot of development work in the solar power field.
Van Straaten lives in Dubai with his family and commutes to Citec’s Saudi office in Dammam weekly. Originally from the Netherlands, he has also lived in Switzerland before moving to the Middle East. What may come as a surprise is that he is also well acquainted with Finland, since his wife is Finnish. “People often assume that is why I have worked for Finnish companies, but I can assure you it was a pure coincidence. I didn’t even know Pöyry was Finnish before I started working there”, laughs van Straaten.
He is excited by his new job at Citec, because he likes building new things from scratch. Once Citec starts to win projects in the region, the local organisation will grow. “One thing I liked with Citec right from the start is the fact that the organisation is very flat. This makes the company lean and efficient. I think Citec has all the prerequisites for successful business in Saudi Arabia.”
Want to know more about Citec Saudi’s services?
Please contact Floris.vanStraaten@citec.com