Pursuing tomorrow’s vision | by Roberta Chionne

Shaji N NairHighrise Qatar was founded with the mission of supplying high-quality construction products in Qatar. Team Highrise led by their Managing Director, Shaji N Nair, has been game changers in the porcelain and ceramic tiles industry in Qatar. The leaderships’ expertise in the ceramic industry has been built from over two decades of experience. Highrise Qatar has been playing an important role in the recent “golden age of construction” which continues amid work for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the Qatar National Vision 2030. A specialist supplier of the world’s finest ceramic and porcelain tiles, sanitaryware and bathroom accessories, the company’s mission is to close the gap between market needs and the availability of greener products and environmentally sustainable building solutions. It has been involved in both the National Vision 2030 since its inception and the projects for FIFA 2022 World Cup, and considers itself an “ambassador for Italian ceramic tiles and the Italian tile industry”, as Shaji N Nair explains in this interview.


Mr. Shaji N Nair, could you outline the key steps in Highrise Qatar’s development and tell us about its “Reliable, Durable & Sustainable” mission?

Success is not achieved overnight. Highrise Qatar was established with the mission of supplying high-quality construction products in Qatar. We aim to close the gap between market needs and the availability of greener products and environmentally sustainable building solutions. As a growing institution, we believe it is our responsibility to support the green initiatives of the State of Qatar and promote carbon emissions reduction programmes. We are committed to providing our clients with the most reliable service, durable products and sustainable interior finishing solutions.


Highrise Qatar Highrise Qatar

Highrise reception and a display of Italian tiles inside the showroom (photos by: Shaji Panicker)


What is the current state of the construction industry? And how is Qatar’s National Vision 2030 progressing?

The construction industry has been booming in Qatar in recent years and continues to do so ahead of FIFA 2022 and Qatar’s National Vision 2030, which we have been involved in since its inception. The coming years will be remembered as the golden era for construction in Qatar, with a new set of construction sector and planned infrastructure projects accounting for a large portion of overall investment. Despite the repercussions of the pandemic, Qatar’s construction industry has seen a more than 4% increase compared to the previous years.


What effect has the FIFA 2022 World Cup had on the local building industry?

The day we won the rights to host FIFA 2022 paved the way to a vibrant and glorious period in Qatar’s construction sector and will be etched in our hearts forever. Ahead of FIFA 2022 and Qatar’s National Vision 2030, Qatar has embarked on a mission to build and strengthen its infrastructure along with other facilities in the construction, tourism and hospitality sectors.


Highrise Qatar

Some ceramic tile settings inside the showroom (photos by: Shaji Panicker)


What kind of clientele do you cater for?

Highrise Trading has been involved in many noteworthy projects in various sectors including hospitality, healthcare, education, government, semi-government, commercial & energy sector. One of these is the Salwa Beach Resort, which is considered a premium landmark of Qatar and for which we supplied Etruria Design tiles from Italy. The FIFA 2022 stadiums are another series of large-scale projects. Highrise, along with its long-standing partner Atlas Concorde, has supplied tiles for the major stadiums including Al Bayt Stadium, Thumama Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium and Lusail Stadium. Each stadium in Qatar pays tribute to the rich and diverse Arabic culture in which each element is chosen in keeping with Qatar’s joint mission to promote green products. We have also supplied premium quality Italian mosaic from Appiani Mosaic for the Qatar Metro Rail project and played an active role in promoting Italian products in Qatar’s budding tourism sector. The Zulal Destination Spa & Family Resort is an outstanding resort development in the northern coastal town of Al Khor, where Italian tiles from Arpa Ceramiche have been used for most of the flooring.


What are the most important aspects of your customer service?

We have always prioritized the need to serve our customers with the best service and top-quality products. As a professionally managed organization, we are well equipped to handle high-end projects in the government and corporate sector. Although Highrise caters mainly for commercial projects such as towers, stadiums, hospitals, airports, sea ports, malls, schools, hotels and similar, we appreciate the creativity and the product interest associated with private projects. Over the years we have catered for many private projects including residences, villas and office spaces, and each project has proved an outstanding platform for showcasing the scope for creativity and indigenous design in the construction sector. We take great pride in associating with budding designers and freelance architects and are always thrilled to see a design vision come to life through our products.


Al Bayt Stadium

The Al-Bayt Stadium at Al Khor (Qatar) and a Doha Metro Station – Qatar Rail (photos by: Shaji Panicker)


Have lifestyle and demands changed in Qatar during the Covid pandemic?

The past three years have taught us all a few lessons. The most important of these is that we must value the time we spend with our families and loved ones. The pandemic years will be remembered in history as the time when the world stood still. At a professional level, we have had to adapt to the new market demands. The most notable paradigm shift has been the transition towards digital technology. All businesses have been striving to adopt the new technologies and move away from traditional marketing methods in favour of social media platforms, web-based apps, online meeting platforms and similar tools. We see this as a much-needed and positive outcome of the pandemic.


What are the main trends in the ceramic tile sector?

The recent marketing and awareness campaigns have been promoting the benefits of ceramic and porcelain tiles and have led to a major shift in the construction sector towards this material instead of the previously preferred natural stone. The interest in greener building solutions has played a significant role in this shift in interest in Qatar. We have come to realize that the ceramic and porcelain industry is a sustainable and viable alternative to the exploitation of natural resources. The latest technologies allow for the creation of products with a very similar look and texture to natural stone. We are forever indebted to the Italian manufacturers for pioneering the latest technologies in tile manufacturing and enabling us to deal with competition from alternative flooring materials. We see ourselves as the ambassadors of Italian ceramic tiles and the Italian tile industry and welcome everyone to visit Qatar, where we will be delighted to be your guides.


How do you see the future of ceramic tile in the Qatar National Vision 2030?

Looking forward, the most interesting and publicised development is the upcoming globally inspired township extending more than 18 kilometres in Qatar’s coastal region. The Lusail development is envisaged as by far the most prestigious and iconic venture undertaken in Qatar. Highrise is already working on this project together with major Italian manufacturers including Atlas Concorde, Etruria Design, Cipa Gres, Laminam, Cotto Manetti and other similar brands. The aim is to promote the activities planned for 2022 and to boost tourism.


What should Italian companies do to raise their approval level within your country’s distribution system?

Over the years, Highrise Trading has been promoting Italian-made products and has received much-appreciated support from its longstanding Italian partners. In the coming years, we are looking forward to expanding our market reach beyond our national boundaries and to take with us the products that we have valued and helped build over the years.


Main Italian brands distributed by Highrise Qatar:

ARPA Ceramiche
Atlas Concorde
Ceramica Vogue
Cipa Gres
Cotto d’Este
Etruria design
Gardenia Orchidea
Lea Ceramiche
Progress Profiles
Saime Ceramiche


January 2022