As technology advances pave their way into construction segments, Big Project ME looks at how the glass industry stands to impact from the Expo 2020 win and the scope for smart glass in UAE.
2013 was a year of ‘more’ – more exhibitors at The Big 5, more visitors at Cityscape Global, more mega-projects undertaken and one more feather in UAE’s cap – the Expo 2020 winning bid.
More is also the theme of the glass industry in UAE. Loic Pageot, area manager for Saint-Gobain Glass Exprover – Middle East, says, “in terms of basic glass, production in UAE and Saudi Arabia exceed the demand for the materials.
“There is an estimated gap of almost 100 kilotons per year between the supply and demand for glass in the GCC and Levant countries.
Most overproduction in this region alone is due to the optimism of pre-2008,” he adds.
“2013 has been better than 2012, but not as good as was expected,” says Ammar Alul, general manager of Schueco Middle East. “Some companies continue to struggle but some haven’t even peaked yet.”
Kiomars Dabbagh, managing director of SCHOTT Middle East agrees with Alul’s estimation of the regional market in the run-up to the events. “There’s two sides to the situation – demand and supply. I certainly anticipate an increase of costs due to material demand and capacity requirements.”
With the use of IT across construction sectors being recognised as a value addition to developments, both Alul and Dabbagh are optimistic about its scope in the glass market.
“Most technical advancements in the glass industry are inherent to the actual product itself – the manufacturing process involved, the coatings that append the existing technologies – to reduce reflectivity, repair thermal gains and losses and so on,” says Dabbagh.
“Glass is a very non-organic, solid material; one of the strongest involved in construction business – even stronger than concrete. Its sensitivity to touch and heat allows it to facilitate in information-creation. I’d say it isn’t too far into the future either,” he adds.
Clearly, the glass industry is morphing into more than just a product manufacturing one. Value-based services are constantly being added to basic glass products, and there are no limits on the glass industry’s imagination.
As Alul says, “who knows, we may even have mind-reading glass in the future!”
Pageot, Dabbagh and Alul also told us about sustainability and challenges in UAE’s glass industry. Read the full story on pages #34-#36 here : http://www.bigprojectme.com/magazine/january-2014/