Paper in the desert fromFinnish pulp

Establishing a paper mill in the United Arab Emirates brings with it a unique set of challenges. In the case of the Ittihad and Crown Paper Mills, these challenges have been met with great success.

1/2022

​Ittihad International Investment LLC is a parent company for two paper mills located in Abu Dhabi, both of them using Metsä Fibre’s pulp as raw material. 

Crown Paper Mill (CPM) was established in 1996 and produces Jumbo Tissue Paper rolls at an annual production capacity of 100,000 metric tonnes.  

Ittihad Paper Mill (IPM), opened in 2018, is the first printing and writing paper production facility in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Its annual production capacity is 325,000 metric tonnes. 

The growth in production at both mills has been remarkable in the last few years. 

“Both mills are well-known facilities in the industry. At CPM production has grown from 35,000 to 100,000 metric tonnes in the past three years, while production since 2020 at IPM has increased by 45,000 metric tonnes,” says Sunny Amin, Procurement and Logistics manager for the mills. 


Planning for strategic growth 

This growth is part of the Ittihad International Investement LLC’s strategic plan.  

“As a market leader, we need to be innovative in terms of our processes and products – and expand our business into different markets,” says Amin. 

The last couple of years have anyhow been difficult for everyone.  

“The Covid-19-pandemic has changed the picture radically. The demand for office paper, for example, has dropped significantly, and, since we make office paper, we also have to look to alternative products in other sectors. We are constantly engaged in researching new business areas,” explains Mika Viertola, Production Manager at IPM.  

Company’s products are sold both domestically and internationally, to 59 countries around the world. In this sense, the setting of the facilities can be an advantage. 

“Although it is not an easy task to make paper in a country where there is no fresh water or pulp, we are unique in our location,” Viertola points out. 

“There are no other paper manufacturers – everything else is imported. Also, we are next to many of our customers in neighbouring or nearby countries, where other companies have a lead time of up to two months. Although we sell internationally, we also want to keep paper production in the region in the long-term.” 

Abdullah Al Khateeb, Managing Director of IPM and CPM, agrees.  

“The location of Abu Dhabi as a regional hub is very important. It is easy to cover the region logistically. On the other hand, there are challenges with running a paper mill in the middle of the desert.” 

Collabaration with Metsä Fibre brings value

Succeeding in such a situation requires great cooperation between the mills, suppliers, and partners, as well as a good understanding of sustainability issues.  

Working together with Metsä Fibre has ensured a reliable and sustainable supply of mainly softwood. Ensuring the availability and quality of materials is only one aspect of the relationship, however. 

“At CPM we have worked with Metsä Fibre for over ten years. We know that we can get the high-quality materials we need, but they also give full technical support, share problem-solving tools with us, and provide excellent service. We feel Metsä Fibre adds value to us, and consider them a major partner,” says Amin. 

Zero process carbon dioxide emissions 

For Ittihad International Investment LLC, fulfilling sustainability requirements is an important part of production.  

“One of our main advantages here is the technology, as our machines are very new and highly efficient,” Viertola says.  

“This helps make IPM an excellent factory from a sustainability point of view. Energy emissions are a fraction of the legislated amount. For example, IPM produces zero process carbon dioxide emissions, with gas boilers connected directly to the factory providing steam for the paper machines. This helps the environment but also lowers the costs of production.” 


Minimal water consumption

Unsurprisingly, supplying fresh water in the desert is a problem.  

“As well as producing zero carbon emissions at IPM, we also need to minimise water consumption”, Al Khateeb notes.  

In this regard, a phase 2 water treatment plant, due to open during 2022–23, is currently under construction within the mill itself. A phase 1 water treatment plant is already in operation.  
The fact that IPM and CPM sell internationally also means that their products must reach global standards, such as the EU’s Ecolabel.  

“To do business in Europe and the US we need to comply with regulations, register and certify our products, and fulfil recycling requirements,” Amin points out.  

Cooperation with Metsä Fibre helps the mills to meet these demands, as the supplier also follows relevant environmental legislation and certification. 

“I am proud to be working on these areas,” says Al Khateeb. 



Ittihad Pap
er Mill 

  • The largest printing and writing paper mill in the MENA region. 
  • First Uncoated Woodfree Paper Mill in the GCC 
  • 325,000 tonne annual capacity 
  • Zero process carbon dioxide emissions 
  • Opened in 2018 


 
Crown Paper Mill 

  • A producer of jumbo tissue paper rolls, located in Abu Dhabi. 
  • 100,000 tonne annual capacity 
  • Covers an area of 50,000 square metres 
  • Established in 1996 
  • Was acquired by Ittihad International Investment in 2018  


 
This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2021-2022
 

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