DUBAI, The UAE is accelerating its efforts to boost the industrial sector and make it a valuable contributor to the national economy, turning the 'Made in UAE' label into a mark of quality and global excellence and can achieve this through successful partnerships with international manufacturers, and stimulating investments in industry, said H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Emirates Group, on Wednesday during the inauguration of the region's largest personal care products manufacturing plant, by consumer goods giant Unilever, at Dubai Industrial Park.

The company will mark products manufactured at the factory with a 'Made in UAE' label and will export 80 percent of them to Europe and MENA region.

The official opening ceremony, of the AED1 billion facility, took place under the patronage and in the presence of H.H Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Also in attendance were Paul Polman, CEO Unilever, Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice President of Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, and Abdulla Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Wholesale City, as well as senior officials from the TECOM Group.

"Our country has become a destination of choice for the industrial sector, as it provides modern infrastructure, an investment friendly environment and a world-class legislative framework for businesses seeking to become global trail blazers," he stated.

"This project is a role model for industry thanks to its investment in people and its utilization of the latest technologies. Unilever has made a commitment to the highest sustainability and environmental safety standards, which reflects the UAE's vision for a more sustainable world that improves quality of life, while protecting its vital resources,"Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed added.

"The industrial sector adds value to the national economy and embodies the concept of integrating human capabilities with knowledge, to build productive societies and nurture generations that respect the value of work."

H.H. concluded: "We are pleased to see such projects come to fruition in line with our Vision 2021. Thanks to dedicated minds and increasing awareness about the importance of responsible investments, we are confident that we will achieve the vision before 2021."

Following the opening ceremony, Sheikh Ahmed toured the plant and met with senior officials from Unilever and Dubai Industrial Park, who briefed him on the production lines and processes.

Spanning 100,000 square meters, this plant is the largest in the region, and is set to deliver the highest output of 100,000 tons per annum of liquid beauty and personal care products a year (approximately 500 million units). The brands manufactured include Dove, Fair & Lovely, Lifebuoy, Vaseline, Clear, TRESemm?, and Sunsilk.

Raw materials will be sourced both locally and globally. Exports will cover countries across North Africa, Middle East and Europe. Unilever is currently collaborating with key suppliers to implement a complete vertical integration, which will help in implementing "just in time" methodology which will enable the factory to become a global sourcing unit by 2022. In addition, 25 percent of the energy required to run the plant will come from solar power, and 80 percent of waste water will be repurposed and reused for agricultural and cleaning purposes.

Highlighting the importance of the GCC and UAE markets for Unilever, Polman said: "Choosing the UAE was a strategic decision. It is a trade corridor that connects the East and West, with important growth potential and world class infrastructure. Our new factory is testament to that � as the UAE's largest private solar park, it reflects a shared vision of driving resilient, sustainable growth, underpinned by innovation".

Polman praised the UAE leadership's strategic economic diversification strategy. He said the new plant would support the country's long-term goal to achieve sustainable economic growth, by contributing to the development of the manufacturing sector and the diversification of the national economy. He mentioned the opportunities that arise for multinational corporations along with the nation's direction to develop the sector as a pillar of the economy.

With construction commencing in mid-2015, Unilever's new facility was completed in 18 months with 2.8 million man hours and zero safety incidents.

Fadel Al Ali, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Holding, commented: "We are immensely proud to welcome yet another world class brand into our Dubai Holding community. We believe this state of the art facility represents another milestone in UAE's diversification strategy. Not only will it add to our country's manufacturing capabilities, but Unilever's presence as a manufacturer will further enhance the UAE's position as a strategic industrial hub serving the region and beyond."

Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, Group Chief Executive Officer of TECOM Group, Member of Dubai Holiday, developer and operator of Dubai Wholesale City, mentioned the significance of the manufacturing sector as part of the UAE's economic diversification strategy, as well as a key contributor to achieving UAE Vision 2021. She said: "The manufacturing sector has great potential to add value to the UAE economy, and diversify national income. It embodies the concept of integration between human resources and knowledge to build productive communities, as well as generations that appreciate hard work and are aware of their responsibilities in economic development. We are delighted to witness more of these projects and prominent brands establishing presence in Dubai, which testifies the emirate's position as a leading destination for trade, business, and innovation."

"TECOM Group is committed to support the efforts of our wise leadership in realizing Dubai Plan 2021, in all of its pillars and initiatives, including: diversifying sources of national income, developing national talent, and inspiring innovation. The accomplishment we are celebrating today is a positive demonstration of our confident steps towards achieving the promising vision,"she added.

Commenting on the opening of the facility, Belhoul said: "This step by Unilever, an international consumer goods giant that distributes 400 brands to 190 countries around the world, reflects the abundant opportunities available in Dubai. It also indicates the readiness of the UAE to begin laying the foundations of a diversified knowledge-based economy. We are proud to host a facility of this importance at Dubai Wholesale City - Dubai Industrial Park. We are confident this plant will reinforce the manufacturing sector of the UAE economic system, where it plays a key role in Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 that was announce by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It is also a pillar in the UAE's preparation for the post-oil era, which is why we are committed to meeting all the necessary requirements of our business partners and facilitating the growth of the manufacturing sector."

He noted the significance of the 'Made in UAE' mark, which strengthens the trust of the local and expat investor. It also contributes to the competitiveness of the UAE product on a local and global scale.

Belhoul added: "With the establishment of this facility, generating 180 products that will carry the Made in UAE label, at Dubai Industrial Park in Dubai Wholesale City, Unilever will reap immense benefits from free trade agreements between the UAE and many countries around the world.

Kakker said: "The exponential growth in demand for our personal care products in the MENA region prompted our decision to establish this manufacturing base in Dubai Industrial Park. With an investment exceeding AED1 billion, 80 percent of its turnover will be generated mainly by exports, while also creating employment for up to 400 people."

"Dubai Industrial Park has successfully positioned itself as a cutting-edge industrial hub and provides all the facilities and services to meet our needs. With time, we hope to expand to a complete end-to-end network of suppliers, enhancing our vertical integration which is a key enabler to allow us to become a global sourcing hub in the next few years. This will result in an even leaner manufacturing line due to efficient deliveries of all our raw and packaging materials."

Supporting Unilever's commitment of becoming carbon positive by 2030, and the UAE's Clean Energy Strategy, DPC is one of the first factories in the region to have both Solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal systems for one manufacturing plant. This makes it the UAE's largest private solar park.

According to research by Euromonitor International, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) will be the fastest-growing region for the sale of beauty and personal care products over the next five years, with the US $25.4 billion (AED 93.27 billion) market projected to grow by 6.4 percent a year. Globally, the sector is expected to expand by 3 percent a year.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which together account for a quarter of the MEA market, will grow by 12 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. While Saudi Arabia dominated the overall sales in 2015 with a national spend of US $5.3 billion, the UAE had the highest annual spend per capita at US $239.

Source: Emirates News Agency