Saudi turns to Italy to meet Mecca marble demand
Increased rate of development in Mecca has driven Saudi Arabian developers and contractors to procure marble "exclusively" from Italian quarries, expert tells Construction Week
Construction firms in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are, in a bid to prepare against material shortages, securing output from Italian marble quarries.
Speaking to Construction Week about the possibility of reduced material supply in the Kingdom, Donal O'Leary, director at Faithful+Gould said the Saudi market has intelligently invested its resources to guard against potential delays to projects in Mecca by the lack of marble.
In August 2014, it was reported that one of Saudi Binladin Group's units had purchased 50% stake in Italian marble manufacturer Marmi di Carrara, through a deal worth $61m.
O'Leary said the strategy is particularly significant given the rate of construction and development in Mecca.
Expanding on the impact material shortages would, directly or otherwise, have on Saudi Arabia's retail sector, O'Leary told Construction Week: "A large component of, [say], big malls, is materials for the floor; the front-of-house flooring.
"Obviously, different developers use different materials, but marble tends to be a fairly common choice for the same.
"It was recently found that some Italian quarries are being secured exclusively by some of the big developers and contractors in Saudi with upcoming projects in Mecca [in their pipeline]," O'Leary continued.
High quality marble quantities to meet such high demand may not be possible, he added.
"The large infrastructure growth in Mecca means contractors and developers know there might be a shortage in high quality European marble," O'Leary explained.