Building materials companies are confident they will ride out the slowdown in construction for at least 18 months, despite a lack of new projects. Firms had reported year-on-year growth of at least 70 per cent over the last three years as a result of the UAE-wide construction boom. But in recent months, demand has slowed by up to 30 per cent. Still, ongoing projects will keep them busy, suppliers said.
"Contractors are busy up until the end of 2009 and mid-2010, so this is the reason we're sure we will not be affected at least for one-and-a-half years," said Rizwan Sajan, chairman of Danube Building Materials, a company which supplies products including steel, timber, glass and aluminium. "We have been growing by 70 per cent in the last three years, so even if we're able to maintain 30 per cent with our planned expansion, we should be OK."
Nagi Beshara, deputy general manager, Jamal Al Ghurair, a manufacturer of porcelain tiles, reported a slowdown in demand in recent months by about 20 per cent. "Demand for building materials has slowed down because everybody's being conservative. They are now taking partial orders," he said. Meanwhile, other firms are restructuring and postponing expansion plans until economic conditions rebound. "We were used to a certain pattern of projects coming online every month, but that trend has subsided quite dramatically," said Sameh Hassan, the chief executive of Madar Holding, a building materials manufacturer and trader.