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Stone and marble industry expands in Middle East market
Att.Editors: The following item is by the United Arab Emirates news agency(WAM)

ABU DHABI, Nov. 29 (WAM) - PalTrade, the Palestine Trade Center, in cooperation with the Union of Stone and Marble, is organizing the Palestinian participation at the Big 5, 2003, the Middle East's largest building and construction industry exhibition, to be held from November 29 to December 3, at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Dubai World Trade Center.

The participation is part of Palestine's plan to boost its presence in the international stone and marble market. Six Palestinian companies are in Dubai for the show: Nasser Investment Company, Al-Naba' Al-Jadidah Company, Al Nakheel Company for Stone and Marble, Al-Saheb for Stone and Marble, Al-Somoud Company and Ammar Diamond Corporation, a press release issued today said.

According to Stone Statistics, Palestine contributed approximately 1.8 % of the world stone and marble market in 2002. Palestine Union of Stone and Marble Industry has estimated that the country's annual production of finished stone and marble is 19 million square meters, which is equivalent to 1.8 million tons. Industry experts further estimate annual sales revenues of around US$ 450 million.

Nassar Nassar, Chairman of PalTrade stated, "Big 5 is the premier forum for the building and construction industry and an ideal opportunity for us to showcase Palestine's leading stone and marble companies. Participating in the exhibition will open doors to new international markets and boost the volume of Palestinian stone and marble exports to the Arab markets. We plan to exhibit a range of products to meet the needs of customers in the Arab world. Each product benefits from the latest technological innovations and meets stringent quality criteria, giving us a powerful competitive edge over other suppliers.

"The exhibition also gives us an opportunity to forge strategic partnerships and close important deals so we can leverage our efforts to boost the presence of the Palestinian stone and marble industry in the international market.

"The stone and marble industry is one of the strongest and oldest industries in Palestine, ranking 12th in volume of production worldwide, which is remarkable considering our small geographical area. The industry contributes 4% of the Palestinian Gross National Product (GNP) and 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Palestinian skilled labor in the stone and marble industry, employing some 15,000 workers, has a centuries-old heritage of high-quality craftsmanship," added Nassar.

The Palestinian Union of Stone and Marble Industry has estimated that the total annual sales per employee in Palestine's stone and marble industry is US$ 30,000, which is five times the average employee productivity level across all other industries in Palestine.

Sayel Al Joundi, the President of the Union of Stone and Marble Industry stated, "Participating in the Big 5 is an important step in promoting the stone and marble industry outside the boundaries of Palestine. Our role is to support the stone and marble industry by helping promising Palestinian companies transact in external markets, especially within the Middle East.

"We aim to enhance the regional presence of these companies by providing guidance on best business practices and innovative use of technology in order to compete on a regional and international level".

Palestine has a rich, natural reserve of colorful, multi-purpose, soft and hard limestone. Some 260 stone quarries situated across the West Bank extract Palestinian stone as raw blocks for processing into finished stone and marble products. Different sizes, textures and colors of stone are processed for the construction industry, design and architecture. (WAM)



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