How has SONGWON positioned itself within Abu Dhabi's growing polymer sector?
SONGWON established its plant in KIZAD in 2016, since which the company has become a part of the Emirate's growing polymers industry. KIZAD lies between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is easily accessible by sea, air, and road. Its strategic location provides easy access to commercial, technical, and logistical support. This is a positive feature for us, as our raw materials arrive by sea from Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia. Abu Dhabi itself is at the heart of the UAE and the Middle East, which together constitute a major consumer market for additive blends known as One Pack Systems (OPS) and one of the fastest-growing for polyolefins. Being located here places SONGWON in a strong position to meet regional demand and enables it to contribute to replacing imports with locally produced products. From Abu Dhabi, we supply customers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, and the UAE. Our OPS customers are pleased to have a locally based partner with a global reputation for quality, service, and technical compliance that can offer them the security of supply they demand. In addition, Abu Dhabi provides an excellent and secure investment climate that creates a sense of dependability which is beneficial for attracting talent.
What has been SONGWON's experience growing a foreign company within Abu Dhabi's industrial landscape?
SONGWON benefits from its status as a well-established global company. We already had links with a large customer base before our arrival in Abu Dhabi. At the same time, the polymers industry is highly regulated, so everyone has to go through approvals processes which can take quite some time. Even when one has a strong customer base before entering a new market, one still needs to learn new rules, regulations, and procedures, and all the various import/export requirements. In any market, these are things which are constantly evolving in different ways. When we established SONGWON's presence in Abu Dhabi, KIZAD was still in its early days, and the regulatory environment was fairly challenging. Processes were not yet completely streamlined, and there were infrastructural challenges and approval time visibility issues, while the required approvals themselves were not yet optimal. This gave rise to surprises that required a great deal of hands-on follow up. The positive side is that KIZAD's management was highly committed to making improvements from day one. Year after year, I have seen an impressive streamlining of KIZAD's organization and ease of doing business. Today, KIZAD has a clear IT and tracking system, building permit processes are easy to navigate, and all the contacts are in place. Furthermore, various key government ministries have also digitalized their systems. Any company setting up here today would find it a walk in the park.
How does SONGWON leverage its operations in other markets and its global resources to enhance its work in Abu Dhabi?
SONGWON is a fully backward-integrated company, which is how we guarantee quality and availability to our customers. All our manufacturing facilities are equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art systems that are continuously upgraded. SONGWON's Maeam Plant in Korea, which has a 70,000-ton capacity per annum, is the world's largest fully back-integrated site dedicated to antioxidants. Apart from this plant, we have two more in Korea, two in China, one in Germany, one in the US, one in India, and one in the UAE. We match the technology between all of our plants. In addition to my capacity as the head of our operations in Abu Dhabi, I have a global role in maintaining the manufacturing excellence and safety levels across all of our lines, so I know that we are consistently leveraging SONGWON's experience abroad to our UAE operations and vice versa. The Abu Dhabi facility with its initial capacity of 7,000 tons per annum was also planned and constructed so that later expansion would be easy.