Saudi Arabia produced 3.85 million tonnes of steel in the first nine months of 2012, compared with 3.96 million tonnes for the corresponding period of 2011, a drop of 2.8 per cent.

The figures, published by the World Steel Association, show that production has dropped, despite several large-scale megaprojects currently under way in the kingdom.

Elsewhere in the region, Iran has produced about 10.73 million tonnes of steel in the first three quarters of the year, compared with 9.91 million tonnes in 2011, an increase of 8.2 per cent.

Egypt has produced just over 5 million tonnes, which represents a 2.9 per cent rise on the 2011 figure of 4.87 million tonnes.