Tile demand boosts local firms
BIG 5: Local tile company, Al Khaleej, is opening a new factory to meet growing demand in the region.
The challenge of meeting the growing demand in ceramic tiles is leading local firms to boost production.
Jebel Ali-based Al Khaleej Ceramics, which has been manufacturing the Grannitto range of porcelain tiles since 1997, is looking to capitalise on the growing market with a new showroom and production facilities in Abu Dhabi.
According to Wajeb Al Khoury, sales manager, Al Khaleej Ceramics, the showroom opened just four months ago, while the new factory is expected to open at the beginning of 2009.
While the current facility in Jebel Ali produces 6 million m2 of tiles per year, the new premises, which incorporate eight kilns, will be capable of producing 20 million m2.
"We expect the growth over the next five years, from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to be 15% per year," said Al Khoury.
Al Khoury added that the company will also be targeting the burgeoning construction market in Saudi Arabia, which represents the company's biggest market at 20%. However, Al Khaleej has no interest in setting up any further facilities in the Kingdom, believing it will only be logistical issues.
"There is no need to manufacture in Saudi Arabia, there is no need to complicate things - you need permits and licenses, and so we are happy as we are."
Al Khaleej procures its raw materials from Italy, since, Al Khoury explains, despite other companies utilising imports from China, Iran or Sudan, Europe presents by far the best quality to ensure products are of the highest standards.
This focus, however, is compounded by the tight deadlines demanded from those in the construction industry.
While Italian tiles may be the best quality, the time lag between ordering, manufacturing and delivery to the Middle East is a problem. "It can take three to four months to order and be delivered, which is just too long," added Al Khoury.
Grannitto's tiles are made from a specially selected blend of clays. They are pre-cut to a uniform size throughout production for all surfaces, making it possible to lay the tiles with minimal joint widths and to arrange tiles of different colours, surfaces and effects.