Although the Middle East has been known as a petroleum heavyweight for decades, the region has made significant strides in the production and export of other natural resources over the past several years. Chief among them is the mining, refining, and smelting of aluminium. As states in the region look to diversify their economies away from petroleum, aluminium has proven to be an excellent avenue. Several Middle Eastern countries have found success along all parts of the aluminium pipeline, both in upstream mining and refining, and also in downstream pursuits involving technological and value-added aluminium production. All in all, the region now accounts for fully a tenth of the world’s yearly aluminium output.
Aiming to collaborate in defining a direction for the region’s aluminium sector, aluminium producers of the Middle East have come together periodically for almost four decades at the Arab International Aluminium Conference (ARABAL). The 21st edition of the conference, which will be held in Oman during the second week of November, will see participants along the entire aluminium production spectrum debate and discuss strategies for growth along the entire spectrum of global aluminium production.
“We began operations in 2004 with a vision of introducing an entirely new sector to the Omani market. Today, the Sultanate is one of the largest producers of aluminium in the Middle East. In many ways, our success is reminiscent of the industry’s rise throughout the region, where producers have used aluminium as a catalyst for job creation and economic diversification.”
The event, which was first held 34 years ago, has grown from modest beginnings into what many consider to be the region’s premier aluminium event. The gathering has become a forum for the Middle East’s top aluminium producers to meet, discuss problems, find solutions, and forge business connections. Among ARABAL’s members are regional aluminium heavy hitters Ma’aden Aluminium of Saudi Arabia, UAE’s Emirates Global Aluminium, Qatalum of Qatar, Egyptalum of Egypt, and Bahrain’s Alba.
This august group represents a significant slice of the sector’s aluminium movers and shakers. Thanks to cutting-edge smelters and with the full support of their respective governments, the Gulf’s top aluminium companies churned out over 5.2 million metric tons of primary aluminium last year. If one includes Egyptalum’s respectable output of 320 thousand metric tons in last year’s numbers, the Middle East’s aluminium smelters make a significant contribution to filling the world’s thirst for the versatile metal which, according to experts, is likely to grow to a demand of 70 million metric tons per annum by the end of this decade.
Meeting the challenge of keeping pace with skyrocketing demand is no small task, but attendees of ARABAL 2017 will be better equipped to meet the challenge after hearing from the conference’s five dozen speakers across the two-day program. In addition to sessions led by some of the region’s top aluminium industry experts, the conference’s attendees will witness a panel discussion moderated by Harbor Aluminium’s Jorge Vasquez and featuring Sohar Aluminium’s CEO Said Mohammed Al Masoudi, Ma’aden’s President Abdulaziz A. Al Harbi, EGA’s Managing Director and CEO Abdulla Jassem Kalban, Qatalum’s CEO Khalid Mohamed Sultan Laram, Egyptalum’s Chairman and CEO Eng. Abd Elzaher Abd Elsattar Hassan, and Alba’s CEO Tim Murray.
The convention is expected to enjoy the attendance of over 500 of the aluminium industry’s top execs, as well as major investors and influential policymakers from almost two dozen countries from around the globe. Whether discussing industrial development, technology and innovation, regional and global opportunities and trends, aluminium markets, or prospects for domestic and international trade, the conference is expected to serve as a medium for stakeholders at every stop along the aluminium continuum to share notes regarding policies and practices for guiding the Middle East’s aluminium sector in a productive and sustainable direction.