Increase in demand leads to pressure on marble industry

Dubai’s growing residential and hospitality developments mean the demand for quality raw materials is high. In an increasingly competitive market, suppliers are looking to China and Europe to meet their needs. With contractors also struggling to find the skilled labour needed for these specialist projects, developers are increasingly making use of market substitutes for construction projects. Zoe Naylor reports on an industry under pressure to deliver the best.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  September 10, 2005

Increase in demand leads to pressure on marble industry|~|50854320200.gif|~||~|Dubai’s commercial and residential construction sector is experiencing record expansion, with new shopping malls, hotel and apartment projects announced every day. It means that business is booming for marble, granite and limestone suppliers and producers, as demand soars for high-end flooring and cladding products for both interiors and exteriors. However, finding tradesmen with the skills needed to provide the five star finishes expected by luxury hotel and residential developers is starting to prove difficult for contractors. With an additional 18 000 hotel rooms due to be added over the next three years to Dubai’s already thriving hospitality sector, and hundreds of luxury apartments currently under construction, finding quality tilers and masons isn’t going to get any easier. The upsurge in activity has also forced contractors to widen their network of suppliers. “With so much activity going on here, the demand for raw materials is very high,” says Faris Saeed, the general manager at Diamond Investments. “The current level of construction activity in the region has a huge impact upon suppliers and materials are being sourced from all across the globe to meet the demand.” As a result of the rising pressure on the supply chain, more competitively-priced raw materials from China, India, Malaysia and Turkey are entering the market. “Goods from these countries are becoming increasingly prevalent in Dubai and are helping to keep prices at a fairly consistent level, in spite of growing demand. We have found that, in addition to these competitive rates, products from China and several other markets are increasingly able to match the high quality standards we expect to see from European materials.” Mohammed Nimer, general manager at Dubai-based real estate developer, MAG Group, says finding skilled stone workers is becoming increasingly problematic. “Anything to do with construction now is difficult because of the workloads. The number of sub-contractors available is far fewer than the market needs. “Tilers, plasterers, painters, carpenters — all these skilled activities are very much required in the market and that’s why sometimes the contracts suffer when trying to get the required resources, mainly manpower. The only thing we can do as the developer is to put penalties on the contractor in case they don’t fulfill their obilgations. By putting a legal condition on them, there is more chance of getting the job done properly.” MAG Group has numerous ongoing projects at various stages of development in Dubai. “In terms of stone finishes, we’re using ceramic tiles for the finishes in the kitchens and bathrooms. We’re using a product known as ‘graniti’ for the floor tiles; the difference between granite and graniti is that graniti is an artificial material, which is like porcelain. It’s been around for the past five years and offers the same features and same look as marble.” “For the vanity tops in bathrooms and wash basins we’re using marble or granite. In terms of sourcing these we go to Europe — mainly Spain, Italy or to Germany. For the entrance of a building, we use lots of marble and granite.” ||**||

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