Industry Spotlight - Marble & Granite

Marble Trends Are Booming in MENA

October 2017

Industry Spotlight - Marble & Granite

Marble Trends Are Booming in MENA

October 2017
Stone is one of the oldest and most widely used building material in human history. As a material, stone has always played an important role in the construction and architecture. Stones used for building are naturally occurring rocks of igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic origin, which are sufficiently consolidated to use in building construction. The principal types of stones consist of marble, granite and other natural stones such.

Marble is a natural mineral primarily composed of carbonates such as calcite and dolomite. It is a metamorphic rock, which is usually white in color. However, rarely, marble can have pigmentation anywhere between yellow and red color due to the presence of impurities such as iron oxide, bitumen, and clay minerals. Marble is often used for decorative purposes due its bright white color and lustrous finish. The stone has been used for centuries to create landmark buildings such as the Taj Mahal, Parthenon, and U.S. Supreme Court Building, along with several renowned cathedrals, churches, and tombs across the world. The stone is usually obtained by open pit mining and quarrying in various marble deposits across the globe. Marble has low susceptibility to water damage, but may deteriorate in acidic atmosphere. Demand for marble is rising in the construction industry due to its esthetics such as beauty and sculpture, according to Transparency. Rapid growth in the construction industry in several developing regions across the world is likely to propel the demand for marble in the near future. Marble not only serves the decorative purpose, but is also functionally used as filler for concrete aggregate, stairs, pavements, floor coverings, and external walls in the construction industry. Marble is often associated with luxury and extravagance; hence, it is employed for decoration purposes in various lavish buildings and monuments such as hotels, theatres, temples, churches, memorial buildings, and tombs. This is anticipated to fuel the demand for marble in the near future. Use of marble is not limited to construction and architectural applications. Marble is also used in ground form as calcium supplement to farm animals; soft abrasive material for grinding application; manufacture of antacid and acid-neutralizer; and also as soil enhancer. These applications are projected to propel the demand for marble during the forecast period. Based on application, the global marble market can be segmented into construction, architecture, agriculture, pharmaceutical, and others. Construction is the major consumer of marble; the stone is used in applications such as laying pavements, stairs, kitchen platforms, flooring, sculpture, and external walls. Furthermore, ground form is added to the concrete mixture as filler agent. The others segment consists of applications wherein marble powder is used such as paints and coatings. Marble powder is also used in some plastics and rubbers to increase density and weight of the final product. Based on form, the marble market can be segregated into slabs and powders. Marble slab is the widely used form. These slabs are then shaped and molded into tiles and blocks for suitable applications. On the other hand, powder is directly employed in applications such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and abrasives. In terms of color, the marble market can be segmented into white, yellow, pink, and gray. White marble is the purest form and is also the most widely used marble in the world. The natural stone market in the Middle East is booming, obviously due to the increasingly expansion of the construction sector in the Middle East. There is an estimated number of 60.000 construction projects throughout the MENA countries (Middle East and North Africa), worth about USD3 trillion. This is by far the most active construction market in the world. The natural stone market in these countries has been booming due to such high numbers on the construction sector. When it comes to the GCC, there are two main types of building stones used: dimension stone and decorative stone. Dimension stone is often quarried and prepared in blocks, according to standard specifications and can be used without much processing, whereas decorative stone is quarried and later cut, or carved, to improve its appearance. Decorative stone is more often used in interior construction for decoration and monuments, than as a standard building material. Stone chosen for building construction is selected for its properties of durability, attractiveness and economy. Marble, which is metamorphosed limestone is a naturally green material and is suitable for applications in sustainable building. It has a highly decorative appearance and is durable, chemical resistant and easy to maintain. According to Globalstoneportal, Dubai is a major player in the region considering the huge number of projects happening in its own territory; and the large number of architects, contractors, builders, stone companies based in it. Many of the companies operating in the Middle East are present in Dubai, which seems to work as the region's operations center. Whereas, Qatar comes second considering the number and value of projects. It has an estimated USD150 billion in projects planned for the next 10 years, a booming construction sector and all types of projects requiring natural stone. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, has major projects under construction and more on planning stage. Despite not having the same dimension as Dubai, it has a booming construction sector and high demand for natural stones. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is a large country, with a considerable population. It has also a considerable number of very large projects happening, from mosques to luxurious hotels, or even universities and museums, all requiring natural stone supply. The only note is that Saudi Arabia is a fairly conservative country, with a closed construction sector. It is hard to find the right importer for natural stones. Not to forget other countries such as Kuwait, with some considerable large projects going on. Lebanon, which seems to be growing fairly fast in the past few years, with growing appetite for natural stone. Iraq, which is finding its own political stability and has many projects on planning stage. Algeria, with some mega large projects financed by oil and gas revenues.