An increasing number of Qataris are working for Maersk Oil, in more senior and technical roles. Saleem Al Yafei, who has taken a full-time role in Denmark, explains why he made the move and how others can benefit from following the same route.

Al Yafei is the first Qatari to take a full-time role at Maersk Oil’s headquarters, and he arrived for the two-year contract as global head of maintenance discipline in November 2014, just as the nights and temperatures were drawing in. He said:

I am the first Qatari to come to Copenhagen on a full-time basis, but there are a few who would like to follow.’

Maersk Oil’s employees come from around the world and its Qatari workforce reflects an aim to help build global experience and international learning by offering opportunities in different locations, encouraging diversity.

Al Yafei was already an experien­ced mechanical engineer when he joined Maersk Oil Qatar (MOQ) in August 2012, having previously worked for ORYX GTL, a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Sasol South Africa. His initial role was in maintenance as senior integrity and reliability engineer, and he quickly progressed to become the deputy director of the integrity and reliability department before seising the opportunity to move to Maersk Oil headquarters.

Copenhagen was important for Al Yafei because it is the global headquarters, and his new role encompasses Maersk Oil’s business units around the world. This gives a different global perspective than that he would see from Doha, or any other Maersk Oil office. He said:

I will definitely return to Qatar with a better understanding of how operations and maintenance works across Maersk Oil. I would then ­utilise this knowledge to position Maersk Oil Qatar for the future. I’m sure that I will be ­better qualified when I go back.’

It needs the support and ­commitment of experienced Qatari and expatriate staff at all levels to develop and train nationals. Maersk Oil’s Head of Qatarization, ­Sheikh Jassim bin Saud Al Thani, said:

Employees like Saleem, who have been on assignment outside the country, offer a good example of the opportunities and add more expertise and perspective when they return.’

The number of Qatari employees has doubled in the last five years as Maersk Oil has implemented a comprehensive Qatarisation plan, and those with a bachelor’s degree have increased. Sheikh Jassim said:

Maersk Oil aims to develop Qataris into the leaders of tomorrow by offering real jobs with real responsibility. We are constantly looking for new ways to develop our people and provide opportunities for them to gain new skills to allow them to take on more responsibility, either as managers or specialists.’

About a quarter of Maersk Oil’s employees in the country are Qatari nationals, half of whom work in technical fields.