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High rise fire protection in Dubai

The Rockwool Group is searching for new growth opportunities in the Middle East. One of the keys to the market is more focus on fire resistance in high-rise buildings. Up until now Rockwool Technical Insulation (RTI) has focussed on the process industry, but now RTI is increasing its focus on fire resistance in high-rise buildings.

The entire world is feeling the effects of the financial crisis, as is the Middle East region, which holds one of the fastest growing cities in the world: Dubai. In spite of the financial crisis also with regard to the oil prices dropping in recent months, analysts have suggested a growth of about 6% in the Middle East, which paints a more positive picture than that of other countries in the world. In short, this offers enough opportunities for Rockwool Technical Insulation (RTI), which has been supplying products in the Middle East region since the 1970’s.


Fire resistance in high rise buildings

“Initially, the projects in the process industry had been planned when the price of oil was only 30 dollars per barrel. So, although profits have dropped due to the oil prices decreasing, it does not impact these projects disastrously, ensuring that many of them will be continued next year. New projects however will be reconsidered but everyone is convinced of the long term growth perspectives in the Middle East,” explains Rockwool Technical Insulation (RTI) Export Business Manager, Peter Vinken. Although RTI has managed to gain a foothold in this market, there are still challenging steps to be made in reaching its target; to have a significant and sustainable presence in the Middle East market. That’s why RTI has now increased its focus on fire resistance in high-rise buildings, “We are working hard to improve our market position in this region. Intensive personal contact with all of the stakeholders is essential in this respect. Generally, and particularly in the case of the billion euro projects currently being constructed everywhere in the region, greater attention is being devoted to the necessity of better fire resistance. As a result, our products are increasingly in demand.”


Getting a better feel for the market

In order to get a better feel of this market Rockwool Technical Insulation (RTI) recently presented itself at the largest building and construction exhibition in the Middle East region; The Big 5 in Dubai. 2800 exhibitors from 53 countries attended the event and more than 57,000 people visited the exhibition which was held in November 2008. By emphasising the fact that RTI is part of the Rockwool Group, RTI underlined its position as an important player in the global insulation market.


Rockwool Technical Insulation’s (RTI) Managing Director, Frank Jacobs, explains RTI’s approach: “In times where pressure is increasing in our home markets, it is important that we keep searching for new growth opportunities. We have found these opportunities in the Middle East and India. The goal of presenting ourselves at the Big 5, apart from introducing ourselves, was to generate a learning experience to support the next steps in our approach. Now we have to make sure that we have a strong presence and build a significant, long-term position. Without physical presence this is almost impossible to realise. Therefore our next step will be to open a local office in the United Arab Emirates or to work with a local party to embed RTI in the market.”


Conlit range at the Big 5

For this reason fire resistance was the central focus in Rockwool Technical Insulation’s approach to the exhibition. Director Group Marketing, Stéphanie Geelen: “We feel that this market is ready to be approached with specialist products for the fire resistance segment. That’s why we used our presence at the Big 5 to raise awareness on fire resistance and on our contribution in this sector.”


This explains the focus placed by the campaign on the Conlit fire protection product range. Stéphanie Geelen: “Good examples of how Rockwool Technical Insulation has been positioned and supported with great professionalism can be found in the German and British fire resistance markets. We can use this experience to consolidate our position in the Middle East quickly and more efficiently. Now that the results from the exhibition have been evaluated, we can start selecting potential distributors.”


One area that required particular attention was certification. “All the countries in this region have their own certification bodies, standards and requirements. If you want to be a serious player, there is no getting around this certification. This means that local authorities must certify the tests and certificates already in place for the UK and German markets. We have decided which countries we will give top priority, and these are respectively the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, to develop a strong brand, you really have to be visible in the market,” concluded Stéphanie Geelen.

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