Dubai: Construction has started on the Dh1 billion Unilever plant in Dubai Industrial City, in what is one of the larger investments committed in the region’s manufacturing sector in the year to date. The capacities at the new facility will be utilised for Unilever’s stable of personal-care products. The plant is scheduled for a mid-2016 opening.

The investments are being put up by the Anglo-Dutch consumer brands giant plus its regional suppliers. The facility will generate up to 400 jobs.

“The demand for personal-care products in the regional market is tremendous and we are seeing rapid growth year-on-year,” said Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice-President, Unilever Mena, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. “Our new facility is a key component to achieving our vision of doubling the size of our business while halving our environmental footprint.”

The company’s personal-care range includes bestselling brands such as Dove, Lifebuoy and Vaseline.

The Industrial City plant is the multinational’s second in the UAE, with the other being in Jebel Ali. It will also form a “valuable addition” to Unilever’s manufacturing ventures elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa territory.

As at the Jebel Ali plant — which is used for the Lipton tea brand — Unilever will not send any waste to landfill.

The decision to locate the new plant at Industrial City was influenced by the duty-free import facilitation for machinery and a tariff-free access to the GCC and Mena (Middle East and North Africa) markets.

“As the UAE economy deepens its focus on diversification into non-oil sectors, the industrial sector is set to witness greater growth than ever before,” said Abdullah Belhoul, chief executive officer of the Dubai Industrial City.

The manufacturing cluster has been attracting a lot of attention from light industrial units and for warehousing facilities. The local automotive retail sector has been a key investor, with Al Nabooda Automobiles recently confirming a Dh300-million after-sales and logistics hub for its Porsche, Audi and VW brands.