Ups and downs in the Middle East

Summary:  Due to gigantic construction projects in the Gulf States, the cement industry in the region enjoyed high two-digit growth rates until the financial crisis occurred. Thanks to good capacity utilization figures, a high cement price level and favourable production costs, regional cement producers achieved profits of over 50  %. The cheap money available for the financing of investments triggered a massive expansion of cement production capacities. The problem of surplus capacity was ignored for a long time, but now that growth has in some cases come to a standstill, overcapacities are imminent. What are the current prospects for the cement industry in the region and for the most important countries of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iran and Pakistan? This report provides a number of answers to these questions.

1 Introduction

In political matters the Near and Middle East is often reduced to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the post-war reconstruction and terror bombing in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear programme, the war in Afghanistan and Islamic terrorism. From an economic viewpoint, the enormous oil wealth of the region dominates the headlines. Until summer 2008 the oil economy still seemed to be secure. Up to then, speculators had driven oil prices up to a record level in excess of US$ 145 per barrel (159 litres). Then came the US real estate crisis in summer 2008, which burgeoned into a worldwide...

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