By Stanley Carvalho
Production to hit 10 million tonnes per year as Gulf Arab state reduces reliance on oil, minister says.
Steel production in the UAE will double to 10 million tonnes per year by 2010 as the second-largest Arab economy reduces its reliance on oil, the Gulf state's economy minister said on Monday.
The real estate and construction sector in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter would contribute 23% to the economy in two years, up from 16% in 2006, Sheikha Lubna Al-Qassimi said.
Steel producers are banking on demand from the construction industry across the world's biggest oil-exporting region, where more than $1 trillion worth of infrastructure projects are in the pipeline.
Production of steel would double from five million tonnes last year, Sheikha Lubna said at a construction conference in the UAE capital hosted by Middle East Economic Digest (Meed).
State-owned Abu Dhabi Basic Industries Corporation (ABDIC) said this month it would invest $6.5 billion to build a plastics factory and expand a steel plant.
Abu Dhabi's Al-Ghurair Iron and Steel plant was also set to start its first line in March, an official said this month.
The UAE's $163 billion economy grew 9.4% in real terms in 2006. (Reuters)