The Business Year

Salam Sharif

UAE, SHARJAH - Green Economy

Aluminum is the New Gold

Chairman Secretariat Office, Sharif Metals International


Salam Sharif has 30 years of hands-on experience in the metal recycling industry and has paved the way for the Sharif Group of Companies’ rise to regional and global recognition. He has held several positions at the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR), including board member, vice president, and chairman of the Ambassador Committee. Furthermore, he served as president of the Bureau of Middle East Recycling (BMR). He graduated from Texas A&M University (US) with a degree in civil and metallurgical engineering.

TBY talks to Salam Sharif, Chairman Secretariat Office of Sharif Metals International, on building the family business, supporting a waste-free city, and leading recycling initiatives across the Middle East.

Sharjah seeks to become a waste-free city by 2020. How does Sharif Metals International contribute to this objective?

Sharif Metals International, which specializes in metals recycling, runs advanced recycling facilities across the GCC/MENA whereby half a million tons of ferrous and nonferrous metals are recycled and converted from “end-of-life” (abandoned, post production, and post consumption industrial, construction, and household discarded) material into “back-to-life” feed stock material to industrial production line. Our Sharjah facility receives mostly aluminum cans, aluminum window and doorframes, obsolete automotive obsolete parts, and copper and aluminum cables. Our processes ensure no metallic material goes into landfills or pollutes the soil and under ground water. Knowing that recycling of aluminum reduces air and water pollution by 75% and saves energy by 95% is definitely helping achieving a waste-free city by 2020.

Is the government pushing private enterprises to take the lead in making Sharjah waste free?

The government is taking the lead in running awareness campaigns and demonstrating their commitment to the “waste free” concept. By founding Bee’ah, which is a government-owned firm and has been the leading company in waste management, the government is working closely with the private sector to ensure that materials get to the right facility and are not thrown into landfills. The government restricts recycling within environmentally approved and licensed facilities, and cracks down on unauthorized collectors or dealers who may not comply with regularities. Sharif Metals’ collaboration with government authorities to receive any end-of-life material and ensure proper recycling procedures is an advanced synergy between the government and private sector for a waste-free city.

What differentiates Sharif Metals International from its competitors?

What differentiates us is our long track record in this business; Sharif Metals goes back to 1938 wherein my grandfather, A. Salam Al Sharif, was a coppersmith. Now my younger brothers and I are running the business. We know the business, and we set our vision toward the long-term and sustainable future. Sharif Metals International is also relatively resilient; if circumstances change, we have the ingredients to adapt to those changes. This approach has proven to be effective over the last 33 years of our operations in the UAE, as it has given us continuous growth results and sustainability for the next 10-15 years. Nurturing the fourth generation of Al Sharif family members to continue our legacy is also an asset in which we invest.

How do you see the recycling field evolving in the Middle East particularly?

The sector has excellent potential to grow because the Middle East is predominantly a consuming market; we do not generate many products here. A large percentage of our goods are imported from countries such as China and India that we could not compete with via local production. There are two main pillars here; the first is our abundant oil and gas resources. These local natural resources give us the comfort of being competitive in the products that we do manufacture. For example, we can produce aluminum from hydrocarbon products cheaply compared to the rest of the world because we have an inexpensive local supply of the raw materials. This aluminum production brings other byproducts and downstream industrial activities into the region and these in turn create a great potential for recycling. Secondly, construction is a major pillar in the region. There are growth prospects due to the vision of the UAE’s leaders and the population is growing here again now. There will be excellent growth in the GCC in general. Also, BMR, as the “voice of recycling in the Middle East,” has put great effort into serving its 156 members and 550 associate delegates, in recycling awareness and networking opportunities through its quarterly official board meetings and annual conference. BMR is connected with with other international recycling associations in America, Europe, India, and China.



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