The super absorbent towel in your kitchen or the soft and fragrant facial tissue in your hand is not just a branded representation of pulp and technology but also a complex mixture of commerce and legalities. The consumer paper and packaging industry – once considered a costly luxury in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – has significantly risen from its humble beginnings to reveal a future of profitable returns. This is despite the fact that the GCC is comparatively modest in its paper production owing to the scarcity of water and fibre in the region. This phenomenal intensification over the last ten years can be attributed primarily to an increased inflow of population in the region, creating a demanding consumer base. Such an exponentially growing market has not only succeeded in drawing the attention of investors from around the globe but the trend has also led both local and regional players to expand their investments in an industry now valued at $500 million (Dh 1.83 billion) in the UAE alone.
The foundations for Queenex Hygiene Paper Manufacturing LLC (QHPM) were laid in 2010, when the project was initiated by current Deputy Chairman and partner Mr
Mohamed Hamad Al Hajeri.
What began as the brainchild of Chairman and owner Mr
Hamad Rashid Al Hajeri, in the form of a single company called Queenex Tissue Factory (QTF) in 1978, soon branched out into all the major paper-related areas such as the Queenex Corrugated Factory and the National Packaging and Printing establishment (NPP). Because of his interest and experience in the paper industry, and an uninhibited urge for strategic investment in paper production, QHPM grew into a limited company and started production by 2012.
GENERATING THE FIBRE OF SUCCESS
Stepping into hygiene paper production has proven profitable for QHPM, which is already manoeuvring to expand after only four years of business, having created a successful hold on the market.
“The tissue paper business is like white gold,” says
Medhat Saleh, Plant Manager at QHPM. “Its demand will never stop or decrease anywhere in the world. Increasing populations and changing lifestyles that lay stress upon disposable hygiene products rather than their traditional alternatives, are the major contributors that will keep demand at an all-time high. Standing at a current production level of 28,000 metric tonnes of tissue paper per annum, our share in the UAE is still only 18 per cent, and in Saudi it is 6 per cent. We are also exporting hygiene paper to other countries such as South Africa and the UK. Although we are well ahead in our targets and amongst the market competition, when looking at the vast appetite of the market, we are hopeful and working towards acquiring an even greater market share, with a second production line being planned in the near future.”
Currently, with one production line with a design capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes of tissue paper per annum, QHPM has already spread its wings wide. “Demand and supply play a major role in this business. Saudi is the biggest supplier and also the largest consumer market in the GCC, followed by UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. Kuwait, for example, with its one paper mill equalling a production capacity of almost 1,000 tonnes a month has been importing about 4,000 tonnes of tissue paper per month,” explains Mr Saleh, highlighting the wide gap. This does not only ensure steady growth for the industry in the years to come, but also puts paper in the forefront as a viable candidate for boosting the non-oil industrial sector within the broader Gulf economy.
“We have positioned ourselves not only in the GCC market, but have also made our mark in the global competition,” he continues. “The company’s owner has been quick in investing in the best technology and highly skilled labour, which, combined with a flexible business strategy that allows us to jump from one target to another, has given us a substantial lead.”