The IFC loan is part of a $38 million financing package being used to create United Joint Stock Company for Petrochemical Industries. The majority partner is the local Daaboul Economic Group, whose activities include the production of detergents, for which LAB is an essential ingredient. Sulaiman al-Rajhi, the prominent Saudi businessman, has agreed to participate as the minority partner.

The plant, which has been under construction for two years, will produce 30,000 tonnes a year of LAB, most of which will be marketed locally. There are also plans to sell the LAB in neighbouring markets, in particular Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. It will use technology supplied by UOPof the US and will import feedstock from Italy and Spain.