Wealthy oil states are expanding rapidly
by Liz White, editor
If one thing characterises the Middle East, and particularly the Gulf States, at present, it is its astonishing growth, notably in construction but also in other areas.
And this is also driving expansion in the polyurethanes sector, as demand for insulated panels for the building sector soars, according to local expert Hassan Baalbaki, managing director of the polyurethane business unit Baalbaki, headquartered Damascus, Syria.
To give a feeling for this rapid economic growth in the Gulf region, Baalbaki said, “I visit Dubai once a month and get lost quite often with my car due to the consistent change.” Dubai is of course an extreme case but in Saudi Arabia, the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, Syria or Jordan, investment in the construction industry is unbelievable, he said.
“I would put growth for the PU industry in the area at above 20 percent,” the Baalbaki boss said, in an 8 May telephone interview.
Baalbaki said visitors to the region are often astonished at the pace and extent of development, which is at odds with common perception outside the Middle East that it is a troubled and difficult region.
Another factor stimulating growth is the high number of young people in the region. In Syria and Saudi Arabia, for example, under-25s make up around half of the population, said Baalbaki. “So you can imagine the demand for housing and consumer products is very high.”