Arabal 2013: a successful Euro-Arab alliance achieved

Dec 4, 2013

A strategic alliance between Europe and the Arab Nations for world aluminium


The Euro-Arab alliance in aluminium emerged as the top news during Arabal 2013 in Abu Dhabi, the annual conference that, from November 5–7 of 2013, convened all of the industry’s major players.
Construction, Industry and Infrastructure: the weight of steel no longer tips the balance in innovative worldwide strategies that require solutions that are more modern, lighter to transport more malleable to meet the needs of structural research and research in the construction industry.

For this reason it is already considered the metal of the future but, in terms of aluminium, there are still some aspects that Europe is not yet able to manage. Europe depends on foreign production for at least 51% of its demand.
Demand that reached a peak in 2007 at 14,000,000 tonnes and which, following the crisis, was stabilized at more than 11 million tonnes in 2013. Half of this demand is met by foreign suppliers with a meaningful portion coming from rich Arab Nations that are important producers of the metal given that they are able to take advantage of net energy and labour costs that are significantly lower than the Western average. The alliance between Qatar and Norway and that between Germany and the UAE to supply the automotive industry can be read in this way.

In 2012 global European production was 7.9 million tonnes in comparison with the 3.7 million produced solely by the GCC countries. If these trends remain stable, and taking into account production increases in two financially endowed states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, within 4 to 5 years the Arab States of the Gulf will have production on par with the whole of Europe. To put this data regarding development in perspective, in the first six months of this year, China produced as much as Europe and the Arab Countries combined in all of 2012.

The event that brings together the aluminium producers and processors of the Arab world will be opening on November 5, 2013. Never more notable than in this edition is the strong synergy between the needs of producers and the European market with those of the Middle East’s major players. As can be seen in the joint venture between Norway’s large producer Hydro and Qatar inthe creation of Qatalum, the company charged by the small state with meeting the needs of the developing market.

The Italian companies called upon to intervene are several. Firstly there is Metra which along with Italy’s aluminium processing sector is first in line after having participated in the construction of towersand skyscrapers in various Arab States over the last several years and currently furnishing technology and knowhow in many countries. Metra’s managing director, Mario Bertoli – who also represents national production in his capacity as President of Assomet, the Non-Ferrous Metals Industries Association– has noted that there is an enormous range of possibilities for Italian aluminium: “This will bring into play our offer of specific technologies andconstruction knowhow.” This applies to construction, facilities and soon also to industrial production. Metra has already been a producer for SaudiArabia, Qatar and the UAE and the new challenge will be to supply industrialmachinery, mobility support, transportation and more.

The most Italian of automobile companies, Ferrari and Fiat along with Ansaldo Breda’s ultra-light trains serve as proof of aluminium’s impressive versatility and the breadth of its possible applications. Metra, with its more than 50 years of industry experience, is nowable to promote aluminium extrusion technology and Italian products for the Arab market.

The Fata di Finmeccanica Group is the main sponsor of Arabal 2013 and has an interest in the various projects at stake in the engineering and facilities sector: its largest commission is in Oman where the turn-key construction of a 300 million dollar lamination facility is being completed with FATA EPC.

Danieli, which recently gathered the world’s leading actors in the aluminium industry at their Buttrio headquarters, will expand their offer to the Arab countries, where they have already constructed 40 steel plants.

Omav, Italy’s leading manufacturer of extrusion facilities, now has numerous plants active in the area and, through its strong partnership with the German firm SMS, is aiming to expand the market for its profiles, which are geared primarily to the construction sector, into the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Other important Italian producers are the manufacturers of Curtain Walls such Permasteelisa and Focchi both involved in the construction of the most modern cities in the Middle East.

Alberto Cavicchiolo

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