At the majlis, my task was to inform the Qatari community that Total was not only petrol stations!
By Dekhil Abusalaa, published on March 30th, 2018
I was the very first Qatari to join Total in 1993. Alain Jouary was the representative of Total in Doha and asked me to work in the company; he wanted to create more links with the country, the authorities, the business actors and the civil society. In less than two years, without knowing many people, he managed to meet a lot of influential stakeholders. He was playing tennis and it also helped him to build a stronger network. He had such a great charisma. As a Qatari, I introduced him to key persons in the country. When I had our traditional Qatari meetings, our majlis, I spent time making my community know that Total was not only running petrol stations but was also a successful oil and gas company! This is the best way to advertise foreign companies here in Doha.
When we initiated the Qatargas 1 project, we started to recruit more people and we became bigger. I had a chance to meet Christophe de Margerie and we became friend. Before Total signed a big contract in 1996, Christophe met the HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. We went for an informal visit to his farm in the countryside and, as we were running late, I drove very fast. When we arrived, HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad was expecting us and found out that I drove very fast. “You should drive slowly,” he told me, you have a very valuable man sitting next to you.” In 2000, I was approached by Ali Al Farden, president of the Qatari tennis federation. He was wondering if we would agree to sponsor the first women tournament in Qatar. Patrick Pouyanné, Managing director, accepted straight away but, before signing anything, I had to conduct a real survey within the Qatari community. How can we bring professional tennis women wearing short outfits in a conservative country? This was a sensitive topic. I went to meet Qatargas and Qatar Petroleum top management and, after few discussions, everybody decided that it was acceptable to organize this tournament and that would be a great way to highlight Qatar abroad.
On the same year, Total and Elf merged. We moved to Elf offices located in C Ring road. It was a beginning of a new era for the company and until now we never stopped achieving successes.