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Wed 28 Jan 2009 02:56 PM

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Qatar construction sector holding up cement industry

Demand for cement in the developed world has fallen by as much as 30%.

The building boom in Qatar and the need for cement and other building supplies is continuing despite the economic downturn, industry experts have said.

Malcolm Shelbourne, chief executive of Intercem told an international cement conference and exhibition in Qatar that the global cement industry had born the brunt of the global financial crisis.

Demand for cement in the developed world had fallen by as much as 30 percent and the developing world’s industry had suffered too.

However, Qatar was one place in the world where construction was continuing, he said, according to Qatar daily The Peninsula. “Qatar is one of the few countries in the world where construction projects carry on, seemingly unaffected by the raging financial storm,” Shelbourne said.

The demand for cement is even expected to increase this year when a number of government backed developments get underway, added Kamel M Al Khatib production manager at Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC).

Cement consumption in Qatar grew by 24.34 percent in 2007-2008 at 3,380 KG per capita per annum as per the QNCC data.

However, a major regional cement surplus would be on the cards a as other countries in the Gulf axed construction projects, warned Ahmad Al Rousan, general secretary of the Arab Union for Cement and Building Materials (AUCBM).

By 2010 with little or no market to absorb the excess volume given that world production of cement is expected to reach 3 billion tonnes.

He said the overall designed production capacity of cement has reached 182 million tonnes of cement in 2007 while the actual production stood at 154 million tonnes, while the total annual cement consumption in the Arab world was 160 million tonnes or an increase of 11 percent between 2005 and 2007.

Al Rousan also pointed out that in response to the unprecedented demand the cement industry in the Arab world had embarked on massive capacity expansion drive with some 100 new cement plants with a designed capacity of 150 million tonnes are currently under construction.

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