Global giant Unilever delivers big boost to UAE's industrial ambitions

Consumer goods major opens $272m factory in Dubai to produce 'Made in UAE' products for beauty, personal care market
Global giant Unilever delivers big boost to UAE's industrial ambitions
By Staff writer
Wed 21 Dec 2016 03:35 PM

Global consumer goods giant Unilever has opened the Middle East's largest personal care products manufacturing plant at Dubai Industrial Park.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Emirates Group, on Wednesday attended the inauguration of the $272 million factory which will produce ‘Made in UAE’ labelled products, with 80 percent of them exported to Europe and MENA region.

Spanning 100,000 square metres, the plant is set to deliver the highest output of 100,000 tons per annum of liquid beauty and personal care products a year - approximately 500 million units.

The brands manufactured include Dove, Fair & Lovely, Lifebuoy, Vaseline, Clear, TRESemmé, and Sunsilk.

Its advanced technology will enable automatic quality control, scanning at a rate of 350 bottles per minute, while also ensuring the highest safety standards integral to and embedded in all equipment designs, Unilever said in a statement.

It added that raw materials will be sourced both locally and globally. Exports will cover countries across North Africa, Middle East and Europe.

Unilever said it is currently collaborating with key suppliers to implement a complete vertical integration, which will help in implementing “just in time” methodology which will enable the factory to become a global sourcing unit by 2022.

The official opening ceremony of the AED1 billion facility, took place under the patronage and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Also in attendance were Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice President of Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and Abdulla Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Wholesale City, as well as senior officials from the TECOM Group.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “The UAE is accelerating its efforts to boost the industrial sector and make it a valuable contributor to the national economy, turning the ‘Made in UAE’ label into a mark of quality and global excellence. We can achieve this through successful partnerships with international manufacturers, and stimulating investments in industry.

“Our country has become a destination of choice for the industrial sector, as it provides modern infrastructure, an investment friendly environment and a world-class legislative framework for businesses seeking to become global trail blazers.”

He added: “The industrial sector adds value to the national economy and embodies the concept of integrating human capabilities with knowledge, to build productive societies and nurture generations that respect the value of work.”

Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, said: “Choosing the UAE was a strategic decision. It is a trade corridor that connects the East and West, with important growth potential and world class infrastructure. Our new factory is testament to that – as the UAE’s largest private solar park, it reflects a shared vision of driving resilient, sustainable growth, underpinned by innovation."  

Polman said the new plant would support the UAE’s long-term goal to achieve sustainable economic growth, by contributing to the development of the manufacturing sector and the diversification of the national economy.

Unilever, which distributes 400 brands to 190 countries around the world, will generate 180 products carrying the Made in UAE label from the Dubai Industrial Park factory.  

The company added that at least 40 percent of the workforce will be women.

According to research by Euromonitor International, the Middle East and Africa will be the fastest-growing region for the sale of beauty and personal care products over the next five years, with the $25.4 billion market projected to grow by 6.4 percent a year.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together account for a quarter of the MEA market, will grow by 12 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. While Saudi Arabia dominated the overall sales in 2015 with a national spend of $5.3 billion, the UAE had the highest annual spend per capita at $239.

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