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Imports of machine tools rising 

By Shakir Husain, Staff Reporter - Gulf News

The Gulf's imports of machine tools are rising amid the ongoing construction boom and a growing number of infrastructure projects across the region, according to organisers of an industrial machinery exhibition.

Last year the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries imported $943.45 million worth of machine tools, Expo Centre Sharjah said.

The UAE's share of these imports was estimated to be more than $500 million.

Other Middle Eastern countries like Iran, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon imported $1.73 billion worth of machine tools in 2005, Expo Centre said in a report.

The rise in demand for machine tools in the Middle East is linked to the region's increasing focus and investments on high value infrastructure projects.

Sharjah Expo Centre estimates the value of project financing in the Middle East would grow by 50 per cent, with key sectors being power, water, oil and gas.

A recent research published by Dubai-based investment firm Abraaj noted that in the first half of 2006, the Middle East became the largest source of infrastructure-related project finance in the world, accounting for $33 billion.

Abraaj said more than 200 privatisation plans have been announced in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. It expects the value of infrastructure projects to be offered to the private sector in the three regions to reach $1 trillion in the next 10 years.

Machine tool manufacturers from several countries are expected to gather in Sharjah for the three-day SteelFab exhibition starting on January 29.

"SteelFab will witness the Middle East's largest display of Italian steel working machinery," said Saif Al Midfa, director-general of Expo Centre Sharjah.


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