Spanish tiles
Visitors at a stand at Cevisama 2023 showcasing Spanish ceramic tiles Image Credit: Supplied

As the construction industry in the UAE and the region focuses on sustainability in line with their pursuit of net-zero targets, Tile of Spain, the global leader in ceramics, is paving the way for a greener future with digital innovation and technology advancements that go far beyond simply reducing the sector’s carbon footprint.

This was evident at Cevisama 2023, the international fair for the ceramic, bathroom equipment, and natural stone sectors, where Tile of Spain manufacturers showcased their latest products and services and demonstrated how they are optimising production processes in areas such as raw materials, design, water management and waste heat recovery to boost the environmental efficiency of the construction sector.

An annual show in Spain, this year’s Cevisama is taking place in Valencia from February 27 until March 3.

According to top officials at Tile of Spain, the official umbrella brand that represents the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association (ASCER), adopting digital innovation along with minimising energy consumption and waste production tops the agenda for Spanish tile manufacturers exhibiting at Cevisama this year.

Addressing the inaugural Tile of Spain press conference at Cevisama 2023 on Wednesday, Vicente Nomdedeu, the President of ASCER, highlighted that despite geopolitical challenges and the rise in energy prices, the Spanish tiles sector has remained buoyant. “The total turnover of the sector has grown by 16.2 per cent in 2022 to reach 5.5 billion euros, while exports have gone up by 16.6 per cent to 4.2 billion euros,” he said.

Vicente Nomdedeu, President, ASCER

Spain, which manufactures 500 million square metres of tiles annually, exports to more than 187 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations.

“Spanish tiles are well regarded in the Middle East for their quality, design and sustainability. Despite significant competition from manufacturers in India, China and Turkey, the demand for Spanish tiles is picking up in markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” Alberto Echavarria, Secretary General of ASCER, told Gulf News in an interview on the sidelines of Cevisama.

“We are investing in marketing and promotional activities and looking at publishing communication in Arabic to drive more awareness about the enduring beauty and energy efficiency of Spanish tiles,” he added.

Alberto Echavarria, Secretary General of ASCER

With a robust presence across the GCC, Tile of Spain aims to significantly expand its distribution to a market.

Indeed, with the GCC’s ceramic tiles market projected to increase at a CAGR of 7.9 per cent by 2028, and ceramic tiles accounting for up to 35 per cent of the overall tile market in the UAE, the thrust on the region for Tile of Spain’s cutting-edge designs and eco-friendly products couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

The association’s exports to the Middle East’s biggest market Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 13.2 per cent of its total exports and nearly 142 million euro in sales in 2022. Those numbers are expected to receive a further boost as Tile of Spain capitalises on the Middle East’s ambitious net zero targets and increasing awareness around sustainable housing and construction thanks to landmark events such as COP27 and COP28 in the region.

A pioneer in acquiring the first Environmental Product Declarations class III programme according to the ISO 14020 standard, Tile of Spain expects the demand for sustainable, innovative and custom-made ceramic designs to soar in the UAE and the GCC, also buoyed by the milestone Green Building codes.

It's therefore no wonder that the Spanish tile manufacturing industry sees itself as a significant contributor to the UAE’s Green Economy programme, especially in the hard-to-abate construction sector, thereby boosting the country’s global competitiveness.

Digital innovation is a key cornerstone of that contribution, and in order to maintain its competitive differentiation and the added value of ceramic tile products in global markets, ASCER embarked on a campaign in 2022 to drive training in Building Information Modelling (BIM) among Tile of Spain companies. BIM is a collaborative work methodology for creating and managing building projects that centralises all project information in a digital information model generated by all BIM stakeholders.

The 39th edition of Cevisama saw hundreds of Spanish tile manufacturers showcase such digital innovation as well as their new collections to nearly 100,000 industry professionals from all over the world – demonstrating how their products can make a significant impact on embodying a green lifestyle and creating a distinct impression on living spaces through their colour and tactile characteristics.

Exhibiting at the show, Spanish tiles major Apavisa Slabs said it was expecting a strong momentum in its business from the UAE and GCC. “The Middle East is fast catching up with global trends in design and architecture and looking for innovation in product design, styles and sustainability. The region offers Spanish tiles manufacturers plenty of new opportunities for growth,” Pedro Miralles, Commercial Director at Apavisa Slabs, told Gulf News at Cevisama.

Pedro Miralles, Commercial Director at Apavisa Slabs

“While the Middle East initially was a bit difficult for us to crack because of its unique design aesthetics, we have now consolidated our foothold in this market. Our business in the region is growing faster than many other traditional markets primarily because of the construction boom and a change in design preferences,” Miralles added.

Jose Luis Gutierrez, Export Department, Vives Ceramica

Jose Luis Gutierrez, who looks after exports in the Middle East at Vives Ceramica, was similarly optimistic of the prospects for Spanish tiles in the region. “We are expecting strong sales activities in the region in the future. However, the biggest challenge for us is to navigate competition from manufacturers in India, China and Turkey and add value to our customers through our unique design, materials and finishes,” he told Gulf News.