Looking at the trajectory of the power cables and wires market in the Middle East, one must first recognise that the global Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted all economies and all sectors. The power sector has been no exception. The pandemic has had a knock-on effect on the global cables and wires industry. Within the power sector, in particular, the marketplace was again impacted due to a pause in global energy projects and reduced capex on active projects. Global wire and cable consumption, by some estimates, shrank by about six to eight per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year. The GCC and the wider Middle East experienced a similar reduction in the wire and cable sector as per independent reports.
That said, it has not been all doom and gloom. There are encouraging signs of recovery already in 2021. Most forecasts agree that there will be a positive increase in demand this year compared to 2020. Major export markets like China and the United States are seeing a better than expected recovery in demand, which will benefit local manufacturers.
Within the Middle East, there are also positive drivers for the power cables and wires market. In Q4 2020, business activity in the Arab world's three largest economies returned to growth. Many government-backed power projects have continued despite the pandemic, particularly in the field of renewables. Many large-scale construction projects have also progressed in their planning and realisation. The recent project awarding by Qatar Gas in Q1 2021 of about $13 billion is one such example of encouraging news. Staying within the hydrocarbons sector, major the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) projects like Hail and Ghasha, Belbazem, Dalma and Borouge IV Petrochemical Complex are underbid evaluation, and expected to be awarded in the near future.
The recently announced Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan is another example. Its vision for the creation of new urban developments and emphasis on resource efficiency and sustainability will likely spur a series of novel power projects, bolstering cable and wire demand in parallel. In markets like Saudi Arabia - the largest economy in the Middle East - the massive investment in mega tourism projects to the tune of over $800 billion will also require greenfield power infrastructure. Contract awards at Neom have been picking up steadily, and are expected to progress well into the next few quarters.
As a UAE-based entity, we are also incredibly excited by the government's latest 'Operation 300bn' national industrial strategy. This strategy aims to make the industrial sector the main driver of the UAE's economy, contributing Dh300 billion to the GDP by 2031, more than doubling its current contribution. Sustainable development is among the strategy's targets. That includes plans to increase the in-country value through refining and supporting local products on a global level.
To best capture the potential of our industry's recovery, manufacturers must first and foremost remember to stay human-centric. That means taking care of employees and really focusing on the customer experience they provide. Demonstrating the true value of cable and wire offerings is also essential, particularly the benefits of high-quality, certified products versus the cheaper but much less reliable alternatives. Last but not least, we must remember that we are all part of a wider value chain. This extends from materials sourcing to standards and policy benchmarking.
With these priorities in mind and an improving macro-economic climate, the Middle East's power cables and wiring market can make substantial gains in the year ahead.
Ashish Chaturvedy is head of marketing at Ducab