BUILDING MATERIALS

Dubai 2020 | INDUSTRY | B2B

Given the various opportunities within the construction product manufacturing space, companies producing building materials are looking beyond the Emirate to export regionally.

Andrew Shaw
ANDREW SHAW
Managing Director
DUCAB
Manish Hira
MANISH HIRA
Director
Hira Industries

How do you position yourself in up-and-coming sectors to take advantage of the huge infrastructure projects being awarded right now?
ANDREW SHAW We are driven by infrastructure projects in the UAE and the GCC. For example, we took a decision to enter the nuclear cable space to assist the UAE in its ambitions. We were the first in the world to develop new 60-year-life nuclear cables specifically for the Barakah nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi. As a result, we are now able to export 'Made in the UAE' nuclear cables to Korea. Construction will, at some point, slow down because there is only so much demand. In order to be prepared, we have diversified our portfolio. In this spirit, we are also taking on rail projects. As the economy in the GCC broadens, we are trying to widen our product range to the point where we are able to replace imports. At the same time, we are looking at export markets. We have been able to export our business to South Korea, the UK, Australia, Hong Kong, and many other places. We love our core business of construction cables, though we are also adding on specialized cables for nuclear, marine, solar, defense, and oil and gas.

MANISH HIRA There is still a tremendous amount of opportunities, even today. There are challenges as well as opportunities, and there are many opportunities in the challenges. We have Expo 2020 coming and with that a great deal of opportunities where we can showcase our expertise in the construction sector; however, there are many questions about continuing this growth after 2020, and there are industry liquidity constraints. Despite these challenges, the government is engaging with many local entrepreneurs and businesses to understand how to promote ease of doing business presently and in the coming future. I have never seen as much engagement from the government as we do now in policy changes, cutting costs, and facilitating a more sustainable economy. We are a home-grown Dubai business that believes in the longevity of the economy. There is a great deal of opportunity, especially within the construction product manufacturing space. Moreover, manufacturing is still a new industry in the Middle East and not that mature. Trading is a saturated market, though this is not the case in manufacturing, where there is still great potential.

How did the company evolve in terms of its production?
AS Ducab started off as a wire producer. Since then, we have grown into a world-class cable manufacturer supplying industrial sites and large buildings with a range extending into high-voltage and extra high-voltage cables, which is the size of cable part of the transmission network from power stations to sub-stations. As we went up the voltage range and increased our product offering, we decided to go into copper rod and supply other cable makers in the region. We then built a metal business separate from our cable business. Two years ago, we opened a business producing aluminum rod, another raw material for cable making. We have added two products: a complementary product for our metal business and an extension of our product range in the power cable business. In the power cable sector, we now essentially make everything.

MH Our company is a 40-year old, second-generation business, and the strategy changed when the second generation took over. The first generation was focused on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) product distribution in the Gulf, which worked extremely well for growth and success. The strategy for the second-generation centers on manufacturing and adding value locally. When we made this transition to manufacturing, a great deal of construction activity came into Dubai specifically, which accelerated growth in manufacturing. Previously, the UAE and the Middle East in general were extremely dependent on imported products when it came to the building and construction sector. We were one of the first to engage in light manufacturing in the construction sector. The pace at which Dubai construction was moving forward at that time, it presented a large opportunity for locally produced products that could deliver quickly.