Emirates Iron and Steel Industry on roll with industry award

EISF recently won the UK Cares certification award for its high product quality

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By  Conrad Egbert Published  March 5, 2005

Emirates Iron and Steel Industry on roll with industry award|~|EISF_SULTANALZAABI_New2.jpg|~|Sultan Al-Zaabi|~|Abu Dhabi based Emirates Iron and Steel Factory (EISF) recently won the prestigious UK Cares Product and Management certification award. EISF was awarded this certification after having successfully passed a series of stringent assessments, tests and inspections of their management systems and overall product quality. EISF will now be subject to audit at periodic intervals in order to ensure its consistency in providing high-grade steel and iron to its clients in the UAE steel market. On this achievement, Construction Week caught up with Sultan Al-Zaabi, who is the general manager for the iron giant to find out where steel prices are heading, who’s competition or who’s not, and why one would want to buy from EISF.

Do you manufacture steel or do you just produce reinforcement bars?

No, we don’t manufacture steel. We buy the raw materials and then produce the reinforcement bars from that. We are actually a part of the General Holding Corporation, which is the main company; Emirates Iron and Steel Factory (EISF) is only one of the many companies under the General Holding Corporation.

Do you have any plans of beginning to produce steel or expanding the company in general? Are there any other areas that you plan to break into?

Well, there is a lot of speculation going on about what Emirates Iron and Steel is planning to do. However, I don’t think I’m going to comment on that. I will not officially say that we have plans to expand.

Now that you’ve won the UK Cares certification, what are your plans?

We are very pleased to have received the UK Cares certification in light of the solid growth EISF has experienced since its creation and particularly in the last three years, during which we have steadily managed to corner a majority of the domestic market. This will of course also complement our ISO 9000 award which we received in 2004 and will certainly assist us in further expanding capacity levels for our steel production and distribution not only in the UAE but also in the GCC region.

What are the regional or international markets that you are currently supplying to?

You see, we are not selling anything individually to any specific company or to a specific country. We are selling to traders who in turn approach prospective buyers and that is how we get sold in various parts of the region and abroad.

What have the steel prices been like over the past 5 years and what will they be like for the next five?

The steel business is very unstable. It keeps fluctuating depending on the demand and supply, like most commodities do. However, recently the raw materials have been in short supply, which in turn led to a hike in prices. Now if the price of raw materials alone is going up, it’s only natural that the price of steel will also follow suit. In the past few years the price of steel by and large, has been on the rise, and I don’t think that prices are going to fall for at least the next 10 years.

What is the demand for steel at the moment? Do you see competition in other major players like Qatar Steel Company (Qasco)?

Last year the annual demand rose to 2.5 million metric tons and is expected to reach the 3 million mark this year. We increased our annual capacity to 600 000 metric tons last year, which is almost double of what we were producing in 2003, as the UAE's demand for steel has shot up over the past few years. We produce twice the amount of steel as Qasco does, which is 600 000 tons of concrete reinforcing rebars per year while Qasco produces a considerably less amount than us. I don’t think it’s fair to even consider them as competition. We don’t consider them as our competitors.

What’s the situation in the market vis-à-vis dumping steel? Who are the main culprits?

Dumping steel has been going on for a long time now. The prices of raw materials are very high. In fact, the finished goods are almost as expensive as the raw materials alone. There is a 20% increase in the prices of raw materials like iron ore currently. I’m not sure I’m in a position to comment on the price of Turkish steel at the moment, but it does have a big hand in the market prices for sure.

Are there any major projects in Dubai that EISF is involved in?

Yes of course. There are quite a few projects actually. I think the most recent one is the China Town project. Some other key projects to date have included the Abu Dhabi Conference Palace, Abu Dhabi Corniche Development Project, Dubai Airport Extension Project, Dubai Marina Towers Project, Dubai Shangri-la Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel in Qatar, Nakheel Projects, Burj Dubai and other major water / power projects in Sharjah and Fujairah.

In such a competitive market where there is access to almost any company one would want to deal with, what is your selling point? Why would a client want to buy from you?

Well, to begin with, we have a location advantage when it comes to the region. We’re next-door neighbours to almost everyone, so there is the accessibility factor and more importantly, if a client wants to check on the quality of our operations, we’re completely available. Most other companies sell only in bulk and that too in regulated fixed dimensions. We on the other hand sell according to order and even sell in special lengths according to the needs and specifications of the client. Another factor, which I think is one of the most important, is that we don’t change our prices depending on the market. If we agree on a price, we stick to that irrespective of the change in the market figures. We have the latest technology and are UK Cares certified along with being ISO 2000 certified. And we’re internationally standardised as well with British Standard BS 4449/97 Gr: 460B; American Standard ASTM A615 Gr: 60). And last but not least, we always deliver on time.||**||

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