Naimi: let’s make more of our natural resources

Region could be self-sufficient in building materials

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By  Eudore Chand Published  March 12, 2005

The Arab world’s best known mineral resources minister, Saudi Arabia’s Ali Al Naimi, believes that the region could be self-sufficient in building raw materials such as cement, provided there is greater inter-Arab co-operation to tap the vast deposits of materials such as limestone in some of the countries. “The Arab world has abundant resources of good quality materials, and with consistent and proper exploration they could compete with the rest of the world,” said the Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. “In fact, Arab countries should be able to meet all of their needs for raw materials,” he said at the inaugural session of a seminar on ‘Mineral Investment Horizons and Opportunities in the Arab Countries’. “The mining industry in the Arab world could attract increased investments from both domestic and overseas investors, and thus reduce its dependence on import of mineral resources that they are richly endowed with,” the minister said, while pointing out that lots of resources are yet to be discovered. “Promotion of cement, limestone and other mining industries locally will help substitute foreign products with our own domestic ones,” he said, according to SPA. Aside from Saudi Arabia, Al Naimi named Morocco, Jordan, the UAE, Mauritania and Oman, as having abundant mineral resources. He also said that Arab countries could also contribute to creating jobs for their peoples through increased and improved exploration of mines. Amr Al Dabbagh, governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said the kingdom was pinning great hopes on the mining sector as the ‘third pillar’ of the economy, after oil and petrochemicals. He expected the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product to soon cross 9%. Over 30 minerals have been discovered in the kingdom, of which 15 are available in commercial quantities. Phosphate reserves in Jelamaid and Um Al Wael are around 3.1 billion tons, making Saudi Arabia the largest source of phosphate in the world, he said. Tala’at bin Dhafer Al Dhafer, director of Arab Industrial Development & Mining Organisation, said greater co-ordination is needed to promote domestic and overseas investment in the exploration of industrial and mineral resources. He also called for the streamlining of laws and regulations on mineral resources in the Arab world for promoting mining, which currently is low.

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