Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has slapped restrictions on export licences for cement companies in an attempt to ensure enough resources to fuel the kingdom's construction boom.

A Ministry of Commerce and Industry senior official described the move as a precautionary measure in view of the huge demand for cement from major projects in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah.

Saleh Al Khaleel, undersecretary at the ministry, told Gulf News that unprecedented demand for cement followed a decree issued by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz in March this year to build 500,000 housing units for the poor.

"The ministry has set some terms and conditions for those producers who want to export this construction material. First of all, we have to ensure its adequate supply and stock in the domestic market at a price of 200 Saudi riyals [Dh195.88] per tonne and 10 riyal per bag. If any company fulfils these conditions, then the ministry will allow it to export the surplus quantity," he said.

Referring to the objective of the export restrictions, Al Khaleel said it was aimed at maintaining the stability of the local market, which is witnessing huge demand for cement for the ongoing development projects, especially in the Makkah Region.

Several development projects are under various phases of implementation in the holy city. These included the expansion of the Haram Mosque and Jabal Omar Project.

"The ministry is coordinating with the Customs Department with regard to cement export restrictions."