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Saleem Raza, General Manager, Emirates Float Glass
Saleem Raza, General Manager, Emirates Float Glass

Emirates Float Glass, a subsidiary of Dubai Investments sees the UAE and GCC growing phenomenally well in coming years, which will aid the growth of manufacturing sector

By Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

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Published: Thu 6 Oct 2022, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Thu 6 Oct 2022, 10:41 AM

The UAE offers an excellent platform to manufacturers, said Saleem Raza, General Manager, Emirates Float Glass, adding that he supports the campaign ‘Make it in the Emirates’ and is optimistic about the transformation of the UAE’s industrial sector into a manufacturing hub.

“This is a growing economy with huge potential. The population is increasing and so is the demand in the local economy, which is a good sign for local manufacturing firms. Second, the strong GCC Union offers a ready market for manufacturers in the UAE to sell their goods at preferential tariffs. The collective economy has depth comparable to some of the big economies of the world. Also, the geographical location of the UAE, combined with excellent business friendly environment and regulations in the UAE makes a good case for any manufacturer to reach out to the wider world.”

The GCC collectively has a population of more than 54 million, and a total GDP of over $3.46 trillion. In perspective, only the US, Japan, China, and Germany have economies larger than $3.8 trillion.

Emirates Float Glass is an integrated float glass facility in Abu Dhabi, which has thrived on the back of rising demand in the UAE and the GCC. Established in 2009, during the great recession, EFG is currently utilising 100 per cent capacity and produces 600 tons of glass per day. It produces varieties of clear glass, tinted glass, and pyrolytic glass, which are used across industries such as automobiles, construction, solar panels, health, etc. The firm exports 30 per cent of its products to over 65 countries, and a lion’s share of its produce is sold locally in the UAE and the GCC.

“We are happy with the initiative the government has taken (Make it in the Emirates) and we want to align our business goals with this programme, so we can source our requirements locally. The biggest challenge for any company or industry is the supply of raw materials. With this initiative, the government is identifying the needs and encouraging companies to set up bases in the UAE to become a part of the growing ecosystem of manufacturers,” says Raza.

Manufacturers like EFG, for now, have to rely on imported raw materials to keep their machines chugging. Sand, which is the biggest component in the manufacturing of glass, is sourced from Saudi Arabia. The other key ingredient, soda ash, is imported from other countries, and the rest five per cent of the raw material is procured from Ras Al Khaimah.

“In our case, there is a need for a soda ash producer in the UAE. Soda ash is used in manufacturing glass and it is also a vital raw material for the chemical industry, detergents, paints, and lithium batteries. A lot of oil companies also use soda ash. This is a good business opportunity,” noted Raza.

Emirates Float Glass exports to 65 countries across Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America. “We have been able to make a mark on the global scale because of the logistical support and infrastructure built by the UAE government. Imagine, if there were no competitive ports, it would be very difficult for companies to export. The laws and regulations here are business friendly. The clearance time at the port is less than 12 hours, which is very competitive.”

Sitting at his office at the sprawling 320,000 square metre manufacturing facility, Raza said he is confident of improving market conditions and economic prospects. The Abu Dhabi-based firm is looking to add another float line to more than double its current capacity of 600 tons per day. “Recession is an economic cycle that occurs after every decade and a half or more. You cannot control that aspect. But what you can do is prepare and be ready for opportunities that lead to growth. We have faith in the leadership of this country and we know, at the policy front, they will be able to steer the local economy well no, matter the business climate in the West. We started our business during recession, and have grown tremendously in the last decade and a half. We have thrived in all weather conditions and kept adding value and products to the market. We were the first one in the region to introduce pyrolytic coating. And we were the only company in the Middle East that supplies to 65 countries in the world. We expect the collective GCC economy to grow phenomenally in the coming years and aid the growth of all stakeholders in the economy, including the manufacturers,” he concluded.

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