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Sat 26 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Aluminium demands have been beneficial to suppliers

Modar Al Mekdad, of Gulf Extrusions, says the region is witnessing a dramatic rise in need for aluminium.

Modar Al Mekdad, general manager of Gulf Extrusions, says the Middle East is witnessing a dramatic rise in the need for aluminium.

What is your opinion about the aluminium industry in the region? Do you have any growth figures specific to different regions that you can share with us?

With the scale of construction and growth being witnessed in the Middle East, the aluminium industry is certainly booming in the region. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in demand for aluminium extrusions in the Middle East; the demand is expected to surge from 400,000 metric tonnes in 2007 to an average of 450,000 metric tonnes starting this year.

What are your future plans for the company? Where do you see your company in the next five years?

Gulf Extrusions is undergoing continuous expansion and is keen on owning new technologies. We are focused on capitalising on the increasing demand for aluminium in recent years. The Middle East market has undergone a 6% to 10% increase in demand on extruded aluminium, meaning a 0.5 million metric tonnes per annum. Globally the increase is 3.7% with 12 million metric tonnes per annum aluminium extrusion consumption.

Five years from now we hope to be one of the top 10 extruding companies in the world.

Your plant in Dubai is in its final stages of implementing Six Sigma at its production plant in Dubai. What stage is this process at? How will this help improve your processes and production quality? Do you have plans to introduce the same in your other plants as well?

We are in the final stage of implementing Six Sigma at our Dubai plant.

The procedures and rules of Six Sigma are important tools for any manufacturing business in order to improve productivity, efficiency and reliability of assets and resources. Moreover, it also ensures that the quality of our products is always met.

We will gradually be introducing Six Sigma in other plants as well.

You recently participated in the Batimat show -- which other future events/exhibitions are you planning to take part in? How does participating in these events help the company?

We are currently focusing on significantly expanding our operations, in line with the growing demand for our products in the region, and our participation in events of this scale will help us reaffirm relations with our local and regional customers, while also helping us boost sales.

We had an excellent response from participants at Batimat and we will be participating in several upcoming events.

With the construction of your new plant in Qatar, what growth figures in terms of capacity are you expecting over the next few years?

For Qatar, we are expecting additional 20,000 metric tonnes per annum to be added to the production capacity by the end of 2009.

What are the challenges facing the aluminium industry in the Middle East?

The high prices of raw material, increase in production costs, increase in energy costs ( 61% in rising electricity bills) and the weak dollar are some of the challenges faced by the aluminium industry in the Middle East.

Can you talk about some of the projects you are currently working on?

Gulf Extrusions is currently involved with some of the most prestigious projects in the region such as the tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai; most of the towers in the Jumeriah Lake Towers development; and most of Marina towers - Dubai Mall and Marina Mall.

What is your outlook about the price of aluminium this year and in 2009. Will it stay the same or be driven up even further?

Due to the high energy prices and the weak dollar, the prices of commodities will be on the higher side, and are subject to further increases. Any significant change in the price of oil or the value of the dollar will certainly affect aluminium prices. So far, the aluminum market prices are under high volatility due to the instability in oil prices.

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