The GCC glass  industry is witnessing a period of unprecedented growth driven by a significant acceleration in new construction and infrastructure projects announced by regional governments.
According to the UK-based Bowmedia Group’s market intelligence report on the global glass industry trends released last week, the construction of new high-rise buildings will continue to fuel the main demand for flat glass products from the GCC, while across the globe, glass demand has been chiefly led by manufacturing, automotive, transportation and packaging industries.
The Bowmedia report states that international demand for flat glass is forecast to rise 7.1 per cent per year through 2016 to reach 9.2 billion sqm, in a continuation of the trend seen over the past two decades. The global market value of fabricated flat glass is forecast to reach $90 billion in 2016, benefiting from the rapid growth of energy-efficient products such as solar control panels, insulation and low-E glass.
In the UAE, more than 1,300 construction projects valued approximately $418 billion are currently underway, while Qatar has seen an exponential rise in infrastructure and construction projects in preparation for the 2022 Fifa World Cup. Across the GCC, another 300 projects worth $143 billion are in the design, planning or bidding states, according to the Glass & Glazing Federation Mena.
The Mena region is expected to spend approximately $4.3 trillion on construction in the next 10 years, with Saudi Arabia allocating $750 billion towards infrastructure, transport, social reform and mass housing, as well as a further $500 billion in energy, logistics and education.
“Glass demand is an excellent reflection of a country’s per-capita growth,” said Derek Burston of Bowmedia Group. “As populations increase, the spending on new houses and glass increases correspondingly. Glass companies in the Middle East, and in particular, the GCC, are particularly at an advantage due to the manpower, raw material and strategic location to operate and export to anywhere in the world.”
The Middle East container glass sector has three major consuming markets: the beverage sector, which accounts for around 56 per cent of total tonnage of glass packaging containers; the food sector, which makes up around 29 per cent; and the perfumery, pharmaceuticals and technical product containers (flacconage) sector, which accounts for approximately 15 per cent of total tonnage.
This September, some of the top leaders from the world glass industry along with GCC government officials will descend on Dubai to review the challenges facing the industry worldwide. The high-profile summit, called the 5th Gulf Glass 2013, will be making its debut at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 3 to 5. It will feature the most recent advancements in glass equipment, machinery, technology and material.
The top agenda at the sold-out summit includes discussions on feasibility of cost-effective deployment of glass solutions. The event is expected to be attended by more than 5,000 participants from the region and around the world and will be accompanied by interactive workshops by industry leaders. Round-table discussions, close interactions, workshops, and exhibitions held alongside will offer visitors a first-hand perspective of the issues facing the glass industry.
The previous event, held in Abu Dhabi in 2011, saw more than 5,000 visitors and 400 companies participating in the exhibition.