The UN has issued an optimistic growth forecast for the Gulf, where high oil prices, government spending and economic diversification are cushioning the region from market trouble overseas.
The GCC is expected to see 4.9 per cent economic growth this year and a further 4.1 per cent next year, according to the UN's World Economic Situation and Prospects 2011 report.
"This better performance is being driven by increasing oil prices, fiscal stimulus packages introduced in GCC countries and the increased local demand brought about by increased government spending," said Simon Neaime, a senior economist from a UN office in Beirut.
"The UAE has been diversifying its production and export structure and it looks like it has paid off at the end of the day," he said. "The UAE services sector is booming. Tourism and manufacturing have contributed to the growth we are currently observing."
Qatar remains the regional trailblazer, with burgeoning energy and construction sectors adding to the profits from liquefied natural gas exports to yield a growth forecast of 14 per cent this year and 6.1 per cent in 2012.
In Abu Dhabi itself, the home for this year’s Gulf Glass exhibition, outlooks are even more positive.
“Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, in particular has a very powerful and stable economy,” said Steve Rice, Director of GGF MENA – the regional arm for the UK-based Glass and Glazing Federation. “Even Dubai, which has been in the news a great deal over the past year, remains an excellent prospect with a great deal of work continuing. North African markets are also very buoyant, especially Egypt for example. As such, this exhibition represents a great opportunity for companies to learn about the region as visitors, or indeed, to present their products and services to some very powerful buyers and specifiers.”
Construction stimulates glass demand
The UAE construction industry is expected to witness a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 20 per cent from 2010 to 2013, according to the Construction Industry Outlook report by industry intelligence provider RNCOS.
According to the research report “UAE Construction Industry Outlook to 2012”, the UAE also possesses a booming real estate sector. The UAE has been described as the world’s most buoyant property market. The UAE’s real estate sector expanded by around 4.3% in 2009, despite a downturn in activity following the 2008 global financial distress. A total of 806 properties currently under construction are expected to be delivered soon and this will help attain stability in the property sector and hence, will contribute to the growth of construction industry. The study has indicated that the estimated value of residential projects in the UAE was more than double in 2010 due to many projects in pipeline after a delay in projects during 2009. Besides residential sector, commercial real estate sector is witnessing number of projects in pipeline.
Approximately 1300 projects worth more than $418bn are currently under construction across the UAE. Another 303 projects worth $143bn are in the design, planning or bidding stages. Indeed, the UAE is still the principle GCC construction market by size, with $714.8bn worth of projects on its books, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Over the past two years Abu Dhabi has been a key contributor to that overall figure. Policymakers in the emirate have given the economy a shot in the arm by rolling out large-scale infrastructure projects, which have supported the construction industry, as well as the wider economy.
It is not just large-scale developments that have been providing eager contractors with work. According to a survey by Statistics Centre-Abu Dhabi (SCAD), there are 10,149 buildings currently under construction across the emirate. Some 5455 of these – or 53.7% of the total – are in the Abu Dhabi City, while 3828 (37.7%) are in Al Ain and 866 in Al Gharbia (also known as the Western Region).
“With all this exciting investment in construction and packaging markets, the glass industry is ripe for investment and expansion” says Derek Burston, Marketing Manager for Gulf Glass 2011. “It is doubtless the reason that we have seen such an international spread of exhibitors signing up to the Abu Dhabi Event, and we expect visitors to be drawn far and wide from the entire MENA region” he adds.
Gulf Glass 2011 takes place at the state-of-the-art ADNEC exhibition centre, Abu Dhabi, from 7-9 March 2011.
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