During the first COVID wave, economic indicators were alarming for the UAE as its economy shrank by 5.8%; however, following government initiatives to combat the virus, its economy is expected to grow by 2.8% in 2021. Most importantly, the growth in the non-oil sector is anticipated to be 3.6% - a positive for the economy in the wake of flat oil growth. Experts are forecasting a full recovery of the economy by 2022, with a growth estimate of 3.5% for the UAE. This optimism is based on the World Expo taking place in Dubai from October 2021 to March 2022, along with the 2022 football World Cup being held in the neighbouring country of Qatar.
There has been a shortage of stainless steel products in the Gulf region, with 316L, 304, 316 and 304L the most affected grades on the market. The reason for the shortage is that major stainless steel exporters like India and China are no longer interested in shipping abroad owing to increasing domestic demand at competitive prices. Indeed, China has become a bigger importer of stainless steel products, triggering a global shortage. In the Middle East, market players are responding by adopting a wait-and-see policy. The early signs of stainless steel shortages are already visible with a scarcity of 304 and 316 grades in the Gulf market.
The internal nickel alloy market is expected to increase by an estimated 4% over the next five years. During the pandemic, demand for nickel alloys among oil-exporting countries in the Middle East has been impacted directly by the reduction in oil prices and the threat of further COVID waves. In the near future, however, demand for nickel alloys is only going to increase owing to development projects in the UAE and other GCC countries especially.
Sharif Metals, Int'l LLC (ARE)