A surge in the number of mega projects under development in the UAE, ranging from hotels to entertainment venues, has lead to Dubai cementing its position as a hub for the stone industry, experts at Middle East Stone noted.
The fourth edition of the event brought together more than 400 suppliers, manufacturers and distributors, from the region's $5 billion-a-year stone procurement market. According to BNC, a raft of new mega projects valued at $29.19 billion were launched in the Middle East and North Africa's residential, hospitality, retail, healthcare and commercial sectors over the last 12 months. Leading the way was the UAE with projects worth $11.57 billion.
"Over the next two years, demand for natural stone materials will continue to be driven by projects surrounding Expo 2020," said Avin Gidwani, CEO of BNC.
"The huge level of urban growth and infrastructure development we are witnessing in the Middle East makes this market an enormously lucrative one for stone suppliers globally. The GCC alone accounts for 20 per cent of the global stone market, creating a regional market worth an estimated $5 billion-a-year, which is expected to create a demand for 19.6 billion metric tons of stone by 2020," said Yan Wang, event director for Middle East Stone.
Leading stone trade and supplier associations from Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, India, and China were present at the event, which opened on Tuesday.
Gianpaolo Bruno, trade commissioner to the UAE, Oman and Pakistan for the Italian Trade Agency, believes that the perception of stone as a luxury material and recent association with sustainability has secured its position as a desired product.
"Stone is the world's oldest building material and has continued to be used in and on new structures. Natural stone epitomizes beauty, history, culture, and in the mind of the people in all the cultures of the world, it is intrinsically associated with luxury, quality and permanence," he said. "Nowadays the use of natural stone is more and more associated with sustainable and environmentally-friendly building concepts. Furthermore, many economies have emerged as new producers in the global arena and the demand of natural stone is spurring."