To move ahead and increase its competitiveness, the Middle East region should work to create an entire manufacturing ecosystem and drive innovation from within, according to Jim Fitterling, executive vice president, The Dow Chemical Company (Dow). Fitterling presented the keynote speech at the 8 th Annual Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum in Dubai today, which hosted more than 1,700 industry professionals to discuss the trends impacting the industry.
Fitterling discussed the evolving petrochemical landscape in the Middle East and the need to embrace manufacturing as a central economic driver, working hand-in-hand with innovation-led strategies to diversify an economy that has been traditionally dependent on oil & gas revenues.
“All of us who are committed to this region – and that includes Dow – must be, first and foremost, innovative in our thinking and our approach to the world,” Fitterling said. “This is not just about steel in the ground. This is not just about building downstream. It is not just about capturing foreign investments. It is about adapting and directing the region’s emerging manufacturing economy to what the world wants and needs. In short, it is about using a market-first mentality to dictate our investments and growth.”
Fitterling cited Dow’s joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara), as an example of this market-led approach. The new Sadara complex, currently under construction in Saudi Arabia, will represent the largest petrochemical facility ever built in a single phase and employ around 7,000 people once operational. It will produce 3.2 million tons of performance, value-added chemicals and plastics; a supply that will help to address the growing demand from the emerging Asian markets, as well as across the Middle East and Africa.“Sadara is the ultimate proof point that the region has more to offer than simple hydrocarbons,” Fitterling said. “Using a demand-driven strategy and close collaboration with our partners in the region, we’ve redefined innovation when it comes to establishing a world-class, competitive manufacturing base. We believe Sadara is a solid step in moving the entire region into a new stage of economic growth and stability.”