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14 April 2024

‘More steel firms needed to meet demand’

By Eman Al Baik


Projects under construction in the GCC countries exceeded $1 trillion (Dh3.67trn), fuelling more than Dh18.3 billion investments in the steel industry in the region.

The demand for iron and steel products is estimated to rise to 19.7 million tonnes by the end of this year from 15 million tonnes in 2005, said Director-General of Expo Centre Sharjah Saif Mohammad Al Midfa while speaking at opening of the fourth annual edition of the three-day SteelFab Exhibition.

He said the production at the UAE’s nine factories, with a capital investment of Dh500 million, and the 45 factories in the GCC countries with a total capital investment of Dh10.4bn do not meet the increasing demand.

With demand outstripping supply, the regional steel industry has been left with no other option but to expand its existing capacities, which in the process has resulted in a huge demand for steel fabrication machinery, equipment and consumables. “Such is the demand that many global suppliers consider the Middle East as very lucrative market,” he said.

He said SteelFab, which has attracted more than 400 companies from 30 countries this year, is the Middle East’s largest platform for local and international steel firms.

It will feature the complete range of technology, equipment and products for the Middle East-based steel production sector, including steel producers, rolling mills, tube and pipe manufacturers, wire manufacturers, steel processors, and rebar manufacturers.

Alongside SteelFab, SteelTech 2008 is being held for the first time. It is designed to cater to the sourcing requirements of the region’s steel-making industry, said Fasahat Ali Khan, Advisor to the Chairman and Board of Directors of Expo Centre.

SteelTech showcases new technologies, the latest equipment and raw materials for steel melting and rolling. Tube and pipe manufacturers, wire manufacturers and steel processors are also participating, he said.

The major attraction of SteelTech 2008 is the Gulf Iron and Steel Conference addressed by key players in the industry from across the world. Among the participants at the event are the top decision makers from the regional iron and steel sector as well as technology providers, equipment manufacturers and raw material suppliers, he said. Participants in SteelFab 2008 said due to the mega projects and economic boom, the UAE market has become an essential prospect for expanding their businesses.

Valadimir Stefanovic, Area Manager at DAVI, from Italy, said his firm is looking to grab the steel manufacturing market of the UAE.

This is the fourth time the company has taken part. “Last year we sold six machines worth one million euros [Dh5.1m] and we are expecting to increase our sales by 50 per cent this year.”

The firm, which is one of the seven largest in the world, sells about 550 machines worth 48 million euros with an annual 25 per cent to 35 per cent increase in return.

For Soco, a Taiwan company specialising in manufacturing tube and pipe cutting and bending machines, this is its first time at the expo.

Alber Teng, Soco’s Regional Manager for the Americas, said 85 per cent of its sales are at overseas markets.

“We will assign an agent in the UAE to help increase our overseas sales by an additional five per cent. The region’s economies are significantly developing and there is an urgent need for setting up a steel factory.”

Irshnan Venkat, General Manger, Welding Division of the Abu Dhabi based Spaceage Group, said his company is recording between 25 to 30 per cent annual growth. “This is due to the growing industries including the petrochemical, power and water production and construction.”