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Dr. Ahmad Bin Hassan Al Shaikh, managing director of Modern Printing Press & Stationery, UAE in conversation withVenkat Raghavan, shares his three decades of experience and explains where the printing industry is heading.

 

Born and raised in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dr. Ahmad Bin Hassan Al Shaikh completed his Bachelors in business at Al Ain University in 1984 and then continued to pursue his Masters. As soon as he completed his Bachelors degree he joined his family’s printing industry venture and joined as an assistant manager in 19th January 1984 at Modern Printing Press and Stationery (MPP) Abu Dhabi branch. Later, with his eagerness in studies, he pursued PhD in economic and Strategic Planning at Coventry University.
Speaking about the reason why he selected the printing as his career, Dr. Ahmad Bin Hassan Al Shaikh, managing director of Modern Printing Press & Stationery, UAE has commented, “As a family business, we have been into manufacturing, trading, real estate, and many more business. However, printing was the area where I kept my feet first during my childhood and it is not anything like regular business and it needs to be treated specially. For instance, even for calculating the cost for a repeat job, you need to calculate it as a fresh job where it got many materialistic factors involvement. Again, you need to be very creative in the business and that is one of the reasons that made me to select this field. The creativity goes beyond the design part and makes you to be creative in handling your manpower, streamlining the production with effective output, and many more. In addition, you are attached to knowledge in general since you are printing magazines and important materials regularly so you will at least look at different covers for the whole 365 days in a year.”

 

HIGHLIGHTS
● Printing press was one of the oldest printing press in Emirates
● Press has received almost all the prestigious awards
● He was the chairman of PPG awards from 2002 to 2011
● Recently, they celebrated their 50th Anniversary
● The press has around 200 employees

 

Speaking about the printing press, he added, “Modern Printing Press is a member of Hassan Bin Al Shaikh Group of Industries which was established in 1966. Hassan Bin Al Shaikh is the founder and chairman of MPP. He is also the founder and chairman of the HBAS Group of Industries.”
Talking about the past and future, he added, “When I joined the MPP in 1984 we use to be advanced than the rest of the printing press. During that time we had machines to type the articles and to do many other things but during the same time there were people who was using hands to do the jobs at their press. Even though the machine was larger in size it almost does everything what the computer and laptops do today. However, that was vanished and today we can see the capacity of that done through our laptops. The next thing is the film and even that was vanished and got replaced with CTP and even that’s on the edge of vanishing state where we may see the different scenario on that in future. For those who have visited Drupa this year will have clear indication where printing is heading. It is heading towards the digital but there few questions that has to be considered before taking the call. The first one is, can we sustain the cost, the second is the life of the offset printing machine is around 15-20 years but the digital machine is around 3-5 years, the quality of the print what we get in digital is little lesser compared to the offset, and even the per click cost is not decreasing rather it is increasing for the new product. The real question is whether this is the solution or it is a push to go for the digital. Also, not sure whether the market will be digital but of course the printing kiosk will be in digital. Next, the future of the digital will stay in the market if they reduce the cost per click and quality has to be increased more than the double of what we have now. The future of the printing has to be analyzed on different aspects and even there is a shift all over the world on quantity. I believe in the next 10-15 years we will not see big presses around the world having more than 400-500 staffs. The number of presses will increase but they will have lesser staffs and the larger press would have around 40-60 staffs. However, those people who want to stay ahead in their business should be very special in their line.”
He further explained, “During 2010 when I was the chairman of the PPG award we found that the printing quality was much higher than the neighboring countries. The international judges whom came from Europe in general, for them it was very easy to find good winner in 2006, however, on 2010 it was quite hard for them to decide the winner so it is a clear indication of where the quality of printing is heading.”
Talking about the challenges in the market, he added, “Unfortunately, we see people who do not know to calculate the cost and if they know, for one or other reason they drop their prices dramatically low. There may be many reasons for that, to get cash, to get new customers. All these is for no reason but to harm themselves because you are not getting job. When you are dropping the price then the customer will ask the same price when the market raise so finally they will not have anything. At the end of the day all of us are matured enough and we know what we are doing. Some of us feel that I need to fill the capacity, some of us look to pay their dues, and some of us want to be in the market. However, modern stands out separately and our customer knows what we are.”
Signing off, he advises the presses to seek to produce specialty products and in addition he asked not to accumulate loans and keep their eyes widely opened on the current circumstances and changes taking place in printing industry.