The customs duty on import of sand used to manufacture glass should be waived, said a German company’s agent.
The price of glass in the UAE rose by 20 per cent last year largely because of the increased cost of silica sand.
The UAE Government on Sunday lifted customs duties on cement and steel, and the same action should be taken with respect to silica sand, said Hamid Zarkesh, CEO of Alzar FZE, the Dubai-based agent of the German glass company Zippe.
The sand found in the Gulf does not, in its natural form, have the correct properties to make glass although it can be processed to make it suitable.
The UAE and the rest of the GCC are rapidly growing markets for the glass industry particularly for companies supplying the construction sector. The material is imported from Jordan, Egypt and Australia.
“The construction boom has necessitated investment in glass manufacturing,” said Zippe President and CEO Dr Holger B Zippe.
“In the UAE, Zippe has supplied six complete factories for mixing glass raw materials in past few years. We have established three plants in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi. Last year alone, we set up two factories in Ras Al Khaimah.
“The UAE is ideal for investing in glass manufacturing because of the logistics the rules and regulations, banking services, infrastructure, energy supplies and the market.” He called on businessmen in the Gulf to invest in the preparation of sand for glass factories.
“There is a vacuum in the UAE and GCC markets in investment in the production of sand for the glass industry,” said Dr Zippe. “If this gap is filled, the GCC can become a major exporter of silica sand to the world as it is a sandy region.
“The market for sand is very large our three factories in Ras Al Khaimah alone need seven tonnes per day.”
The company, which was founded in 1920, has grown rapidly because of the global construction boom and has 500 plants around the world.
“We have set up factories in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and India during the past few years,” added Dr Zippe. “We design plants in co-ordination with customers and the final installation is carried out under our supervision. The customer is provided with operational training and after-sale maintenance and technical updates. The company also manufactures plants for glass recycling,” he said.
Zippe is participating in the three-day Front, Roof and Cladding exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Also taking part is Italy’s Adelio Lattuada, whose co-owner Lattuada Nicola said the glass market in the Gulf has matured in the past few years and was focused on quality more than ever.
The company, which specialises in making machines for grinding corners, straight-line edging, bevelling and double edging, has sold four machines to companies in the UAE after taking part in the exhibition for the first time last year
“We design machines to order,” he said. “There is high demand in the UAE market. We are finalising an agreement with a local agent.
“The luxurious and high quality construction projects have created a strong demand for glass frontages.”
GLASS REFLECTS BRIGHT FUTURE
Egypt’s glass container manufacturing industry is growing fast, said Mahmoud El Fas, technical director of Arab Pharmaceutical Glass. The country has a number of advantages supply of raw material and labour and its proximity to markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).
The company has sales worth $21.8 million (Dh80m) and supplies 90 per cent of its output to the domestic market.
“We are looking to expand our regional leadership position in pharmaceutical glass production,” said El Fas.
“A 165-tonne per day amber pharmaceutical glass furnace is under construction and will become operational in mid-2009.