Steel production in the Middle East increased by 1 per cent in March, as higher output from the UAE and Saudi Arabia offset falling production in Qatar and Iran.

According to the World Steel Association (Worldsteel), the Middle East produced 2.37 million tonnes of crude steel in March 2015 compared with 2.35 million tonnes in the same period last year.

UAE production jumped 27 per cent to 260,000 tonnes in March, while Saudi Arabia increased its output by 5 per cent to an estimated 565,000 tonnes.

Qatar saw the biggest fall in production, down 14 per cent to 229,000 tonnes. The region’s largest producer Iran lowered output by 1 per cent to 1.32 million tonnes.

The Middle East was the only region in the world that increased steel production in March, according to Worldsteel. Global output dropped 2.7 per cent to 138 million tonnes with major producers China, Japan, South Korea and the US all witnessing falling production.

In North Africa, Libyan and Moroccan steel production decreased significantly year on year, but Egyptian output rose 9 per cent to 610,000 tonnes.