Dubai: The UAE Industrial Strategy had made long strides towards achieving its goals, and that the industrial sector was now well-positioned to continue its journey with further success, Ahmad bin Fahad, CEO of Dubal Holding told Gulf News in an interview.
“Dubal Holding has a pivotal role in the UAE Industrial Strategy due to the rich and varied industrial portfolio that served important sectors in the UAE,” said Bin Fahad.
While the company holds 50 per cent stake in Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) and a 60 per cent share in OSE Industries, it recently took part in a huge investment with a consortium of six strategic international partners to build in Dubai one of the world’s largest individual facilities to turn waste to energy at the cost of around $1.3 billion (Dh4.8 billion) and the capacity to treat nearly 5,600 tonnes of municipality waste per day.
Bin Fahad said Dubal Holding is planning to acquire shares in a number of emerging industrial companies in order to expand in the global market.
“We have intensified our investments and have been involved in a number of projects in transformational and other industries, the latest of which was the mega-project, Dubai Waste Management Company, which converts solid waste to energy,” he said
Additionally, the company is in the research and planning stage to launch other projects, including an electronic waste management project, which recycles discarded electrical and electronic devices – or E-Waste – such as discarded computers and TV sets. These devices contain useful, recyclable components such as high-grade metals including copper and gold, which exist in tiny quantities but once they’re extracted from large quantities of waste, they produce commercially viable quantities of metal. The project aims primarily at enhancing sustainability and preserving a clean and healthy environment in the UAE, while creating new work opportunities, and serving the interests of investors.
“As part of our sustainability drive, we are also drawing plans for two other recycling projects; the first will convert plastic waste to fuel such as diesel, and the second will transform plant residues and food waste to emission-free biofuel, which will offer companies interested in reducing their carbon footprint and enhancing their social responsibility a clean and affordable alternative to run their vehicles,” he said.
Dubal Holding intends to invest in companies and initiatives that make a difference.
“Our aim is to combine positive impact with positive returns, by championing sustainability projects, especially those that bring on board specialised knowledge and constitute a qualitative addition that serves the industrial sector and contribute to its competitiveness, and consequently help to diversify and transform the national economy,” he said.
Within this framework, the company plans to grow its business by investing in outstanding or promising projects in industrial, power and energy, and commodities and mining sectors, while paying special attention to sustainability and technological innovation. We place high importance on mining and the production of raw material, specifically aluminium, since it is an essential commodity in the supply chain of several other important industries. Dubal Holding continues to invest heavily in aluminium across its value chains.
“We have two mines for the extraction of raw aluminium or bauxite; one in Guinea in West Africa and the other is under construction in Brazil. The Guinean mine provides raw material to Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA) Company, which Dubal Holding owns 50 per cent of shares, while surplus production from the mine is sold in the global market,” said Bin Fahad.
There is a huge demand for UAE products from abroad, more than many people may think, not only for manufactured products but on metal scrap as well. A large portion of aluminium scrap produced in the UAE is exported abroad, which is a waste of mineral resources that we seek to stop or limit. This is happening at a time when international laws are now barring companies that operate mines for aluminium or other minerals from expanding into new mines for environmental reasons as well as to put pressure on these companies to find alternatives to mining, like recycling scrap.
“As part of our efforts to find innovative alternatives or additional solutions in this concern, we launched a pilot project at EGA to establish a unit for the production of ‘green aluminium’ which uses renewable energy. We used solar energy to initially produce 40,000 tonnes. To our surprise, not only the demand surpassed our supplies, but we found out there was also strong demand for recycled aluminium – an area we now plan to expand into,” he said.
The company’s primary focus for the current period is, Dubai Waste Management Company. The Emirate of Dubai produces 10,000 tonnes of solid waste collected by Dubai Municipality every day. The project will have the capacity to treat 5,600 tonnes of this waste and turn it to energy, thus supplying electricity to around 100,000 households.
“We hope to get involved in similar projects in other places, as they have a great value on many levels; not only do they protect the environment and the health of the community, and are sustainable, they also free landfills, allowing the land to be reused for residential or commercial development,” he said.
Other major projects that are in the planning stage include a facility to convert plastic waste to fuels such as diesel as well as chemical products used in the manufacture of paints and oils. The cost of the facility is estimated at Dh100 million, and will be operational three years from the date of approval.
The last major acquisition by Dubal Holding was OSE Industries, which is a key player in the electrical vehicles’ supply chain that was founded in Dubai Industrial City. It uses raw material from Emirates Global Aluminium to manufacture battery components and spare parts used in electrical vehicles. It’s a very promising investment, and the company has direct channels with the world’s largest electrical vehicles’ manufacturers. “We are looking into expanding OSE Industries’ operations and turn it into a global company in close proximity to car manufacturers in Europe, the US and Asia in coming years,” he said
“We actually have a plan to acquire shares in a number of companies in the future, but we are waiting for the right time and price. The acquisition of industrial companies requires plenty of research, specialised expertise and perseverance, and are often subject to certain considerations. However, we are constantly looking for promising and distinguished investment opportunities,” said Bin Fahad.
Dubai Holding and MDC Power Holding Company, a part of Mubadala, completed the first-in-the region Power Plant and Reversed Osmosis Plan at EGA Jebel Ali. In late 2021, these assets were sold to EGA to support its decarbonization efforts and other green initiatives.
Dubal Holding is also leading the development of the world’s largest Waste to Energy facility in Warsan, Dubai. The project envisages the treatment of around 1.9 million tonnes of solid waste per year to generate around 200MW of electricity that will be fed to the local grid.