The first wave of industrialisation came in the 1970s
Landmark industrial schemes
Although industrial diversification is a buzzword today, Middle East governments have long understood the need to broaden their capabilities beyond the extraction and export of hydrocarbons.
The Gulfs first wave of industrial projects was executed in the 1970s, with Bahrain leading the way, opening an aluminium smelter in 1971.
Qatar followed, establishing Qatar Steel in 1974, and in the mid-1970s, Ras al-Khaimah Cement Company and Dubai Aluminium started operations in the UAE.
That decade would also see the launch of Saudi Arabias twin industrial cities of Jubail and Yanbu.
Built from scratch on empty plots of land, the two industrial behemoths now account for 10 per cent of the worlds petrochemicals exports. Home to hundreds of industries, it is their sheer size that sets them apart from other industrial cities in the region. In 1983, Jubail Industrial City was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest engineering and construction project ever attempted.
Import substitution and job creation were the main drivers behind these pioneering projects and remain key motivations for industrial investments today, along with extracting greater value from oil and gas resources.
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