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The Dow Chemical Company’s (DOW - Analyst Report) executive vice president Jim Fitterling emphasized the role of manufacturing and innovation in driving the Middle East region’s industrial sector.

Speaking at the 8th Annual Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum in Dubai, Fitterling’s point of discussion centered on the emerging petrochemical landscape in the Middle East. The forum saw more than 1,700 industry professionals discussing the trends impacting the industry.

Fitterling also highlighted the necessity to adapt manufacturing as a key economic driver and to add diversity to the economy that has been traditionally dependant on oil and gas revenues. This vision can be achieved by implementing innovation-led strategies that match the world’s need and wants.

To present an example of the above mentioned vision, Fitterling put forward Dow’s joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara). Once completed, the Sadara complex will be the largest petrochemical facility ever built in a single phase in Saudi Arabia.

The new Sadara complex will employ roughly 7,000 people once operational, and is expected to produce 3.2 million tons of performance, value-added chemicals and plastics -- a supply that will help to address the growing demand from the evolving Asian markets, along with the Middle East and Africa.

Sadara will establish itself as a world-class, competitive manufacturing base in the middle-east region, using a demand-driven strategy with innovation and close collaboration with the partners in the region. The collaboration also signifies the fact that the Middle East region is capable to offer more than simple hydrocarbons.

Sadara also projects another classic example of establishing vital economic growth and sustainability in the region through its public-private partnership. By clubbing the influence and facilitation powers of public entities with the niche expertise and experience of private enterprises, this venture is expected to deliver mutually beneficial results that will positively impact at an economic, environmental and social level.

At the deliberation, Fitterling also emphasized the need for additional focus on education, which will enhance the region’s science, technology, engineering and math skills. This in turn will also increase investments in the education sector, where emerging needs of the private sector are high, and develop the much-needed critical mass of skilled workers.

In short, Fitterling said that the need of the hour is to embrace manufacturing, adapt to a more market-driven mentality and establish a new era of public-private partnerships. All these will help develop the region’s economy and industry moving forward. This will stimulate the real technical innovation at home. Thereby, attracting investments from abroad that can uplift the Middle East’s domestic markets.

Dow currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other companies in the chemical industry worth considering include Methanex Corp. (MEOH - Analyst Report), Asahi Kasei Corp. and Akzo Nobel NV (AKZOY). While both Methanex and Asahi Kasei hold a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Akzo Nobel retains a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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