The economic recovery in the UAE, coupled with an improving construction market, oil & gas projects, pipeline & port expansions and several new ventures, is set to drive up demand for the metal-working, metal-manufacturing and steel fabrication industry, according to industry analysts.

This positive outlook is set to reflect in higher exhibitor participation and increased visitor turnout at SteelFab 2011, which is to be staged at Expo Centre Sharjah from January 17 to 20.

“World markets are seeing a steady and stable steel recovery. The improved outlook is in light of a better than expected forecast for developed economies, particularly the European Union, North America and the former Soviet republics, and the continued economic rebound in many emerging economies,” said Mr Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, Director-General of Expo Centre Sharjah.

The World Steel Association (Worldsteel), Brussels, has forecast that apparent steel use will increase by 13.1 per cent to 1.27 million metric tonnes in 2010 after contracting by 6.6 per cent in 2009. Worldsteel forecasts world steel demand to grow by 5.3 per cent in 2011, resulting in a record 1.34 million metric tonnes of demand.

“Closer home, higher oil prices and recovering regional economies are set to boost demand for the steel fabrication industry. In this context, SteelFab 2011 will be the right platform for exhibitors to tap into the growing requirements of several industrial sectors,” added Mr Midfa.

The Middle East and North Africa region recorded a 0.4 per cent growth in 2009 and is expected to show a 5.9 per cent and a 5.3 per cent growth in apparent steel use in 2010 and 2011 respectively, according to Worldsteel’s forecast. This will bring apparent steel use in the MENA region to 65.7 million metric tonnes, which is 17 per cent above the 2007 level.

Another positive factor that will shore up the sector is the projected rebound in the UAE's economy by 2.4 per cent this year, and by 3.2 per cent in 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in its World Economic Outlook released recently. These figures are in line with projections by leading institutions such as Standard Chartered, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and NCB Capital.

The construction sector, which has been the backbone of the UAE, is also in good health. The country is still the largest construction market in the GCC with a value of US$ 714.8 billion, a study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. This sector is important segment of the show and the continuing construction activities will boost the presence of exhibitors catering to its requirements.

Pipeline projects have been plentiful in the last year in the Middle East, only the US and Asia edging out the region in terms of numbers. Simdex, the pipeline database, found that 115 projects are under way for lines that run an average length of 435km, with an added 14 jobs in the pre-construction phase, according to its March 2010 report.

The UAE is also set to begin several key projects. Earlier this year the Abu Dhabi Transmission & Despatch Company awarded the contract for the second phase of the US $610 million Fujairah water transmission system to a consortium led by Technip and Dodsal Engineering & Construction Dubai.

Among other projects, Siirtec Nigi, the Italian oil and gas engineering and contracting firm known as Sini, has won a contract worth more than 40 million euros to supply equipment for the world's biggest sulphur recovery plant as part of Abu Dhabi's Shah sour gas field development.

An Austria-based construction company, Strabag, has won a contract worth 105 million euros to build parts of the new Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi. McDermott International, Inc. (McDermott) was awarded a contract to upgrade and enhance a water injection system for Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) in the Zakum field. The contract value is expected to be approximately US $350 million.

SteelFab 2011 expects these projects to expand demand for the metal-working, metal-manufacturing and steel fabrication industry in a big way. As part of their continued fiscal expansionary policies, regional governments are also likely to announce several high-profile projects in the coming months, which augurs well for the industry.

SteelFab 2011 will showcase the Middle East’s largest display of machinery, machine tools, welding equipment, supplies, consumables and ancillary equipment used in the pre-and post-treatment of steel.

Apart from a special focus on welding consumables, SteelFab 2011 will feature metal-cutting machine tools, under the banner ‘Machine Tools Middle East’. This segment will feature lathes, milling, drilling, grinding, EDMs, work centres, tool room machinery, high-precision machine tools, machining centres and affiliated machine tools.

The live machinery display will feature shears, press brakes, punch presses, CNC profile cutting, beveling, grinding, oxy-fuel cutting, water-jet cutting, plate drilling/cutting, beam drilling/sawing, blasting/painting, cut-to-length, slit-to length, welding displays and stud welding. CNC cutting systems with plasma, Laser, oxy-fuel and waterjet are expected to be a major attraction at the show.

Product presentations and seminars will be organised alongside the show, which is open for trade and professional visitors only.

SteelFab 2010 will be organised by Expo Centre Sharjah with the support from the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.