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KAQA prize: Leverage to be globally competitive
By Querubin J. Minas Saudi Gazette
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 04 - 2009

In a highly competitive global environment confronted with economic downturn, achieving an internationally-recognized certificate for quality standard is a business leverage.
It is no mean feat, no less than the Governor of Saudi Arabian Standards and Quality Organization (SASO+Q) Nabil Ameen Molla said.
On the eve of an official ceremony to formally honor the four awardees of the King Abdul Aziz Quality Award (KAQA) for 2008 to be held Monday at the SASO headquarters in Riyadh, Molla said having quality certificate gives an edge over other competitors in the same field of business endeavor.
KAQA prize, under the supervision of SASO, aims to encourage companies excel in their respective fields and thereby help them come out with quality product and services.
The KAQA awards, Molla said, will be conferred by Saudi Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Bin Ahmad Zainal Ali Reza on behalf of Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector General.
As disclosed earlier, the recipient of KAQA awards for 2008 are: Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), Savola Packaging Systems Co, Jubail Petrochemicals (Kemya) and Advanced Electronics. Savola won the prize in the medium productive institutions category while STC bagged the prize in the large service institutions category.
Kemya and Advanced Electronics shared the prize in the large productive institutions sector.
The government introduced the prize to improve the performance of Saudi institutions in various sectors.
SASO's main objective is to foster a “culture of quality” in every organization, whether it is a manufacturing or services entity, he said. A company that has a SASO certificate “is much better than others in the pursuit of their corporate goal,” he added.
In a phone interview with the Saudi Gazette, he said, SASO, being a neutral and independent body, imposes stringent requirements and adopts meticulous and scientific procedures in screening applicants (for quality certificate).
“Our methods and guidelines are in conformity to and in compliance with those being used by other international quality organizations like ISO (International Organization for Standardization), IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) for all electrical, electronic and related technologies and products, CAC for food standard, and OIML for metrology and calibration, among others, to ensure our adherence to international quality standards, Molla pointed out.
However, SASO makes some modifications in the requirements based on “our needs” taking into consideration “our religion, climate” and other local surrounding facts, he said.
Molla moreover said SASO exercises the highest level of confidentiality in dealing with the individual company applying for a certificate, noting that the technical report obtained after the evaluation is only between both parties.
“Meeting our requirements is not easy at all, they are tough and difficult,” he said, adding that at times, it takes a year before a company applicant can complete the SASO requirements. Normally, if the prerequisites were complied with, evaluation would take only 3-4 months.
At present, Molla said, SASO has a “mutual recognition” with 14 countries that gives access and recognizes the products and services that have SASO certificate. “SASO certificate is a visa for journey (of the companies) to other countries,” he said, adding that ?it (certificate) facilitates trade between countries.
In the first ever awards to be conferred by KAQA, the four awardees did not only meet the requirements, but also displayed exemplary performance that would make them as role model for the rest of the business community and the society as a whole.
Molla said the “King Abdul Aziz Quality Award is on par with many international prizes such as Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the US,” he said.
Companies that are managed well, employ more Saudis and put strong emphasis on manpower and social development qualify for the prize, he noted.
As many as 102 companies contested for the prize last year. Owing to a big number of participants, international experts had been involved in the selection process. “All companies that have reached the final round enjoy distinguished quality applications,” Molla said.
Setting sight on the future, Molla further said the screening and evaluation of applicants and nominees for the second round of KAQA awards will begin in two months. The winners would be known only by mid-2011, he added, which shows the methodical and conscientious procedures applied by SASO. __

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