Releasing of this issue of the Arab Steel magazine coincides with the passage of 40 years since the establishment of the Arab Iron and Steel Union (AISU) in April of 1971 in Cairo, the Arab Republic of Egypt. When established, AISU comprised thirteen companies distributed over seven Arab countries. Today, AISU comprises more than 87 companies distributed over most of the countries of the Arab homeland. When it started its activities at the beginning of the seventies of the last century, the total production capacities of the Arab iron and steel mills did not exceed two million tons per year. Today the production capacities of steel exceed 25 million tons per year. More than one Arab country produces more than five million tons of various steel products per year, in addition to a number of mills the production capacity of each of which exceeds three million tons per year.
AISU has proved its presence and dynamism during the period of prosperity of the Arab iron and steel industry in the eighties and nineties epoch of the last century. AISU has used all its available means to achieve its key objective represented in the development and growth of the Arab steel industry.
During the last ten years of this century, the Arab iron and steel industry has become quite different in terms of quantity and quality from it had been during the last three decades of the last century. At the beginning of the seventies of the last century, this industry was restricted to a number of mills with limited production capacities, while at the beginning of the twenty first century this industry has come to play a characteristic role in the economic development which is connected with the development movement. In the production language, this industry has become to represent millions and millions of tons of steel, a wide mix of products and thousands of workers directing the movement of this industry, in addition to the race of mills in most Arab countries to employ the latest technologies of steelmaking and be interested in quality.
Export and opening new markets at the world level have become of the main objectives which the major steel companies in the Arab world are endeavoring to achieve. A number of the Arab companies have encouraged the steel companies to enter into partnerships with international steel companies to make use of their experiences in developing this industry, in addition to endeavoring to attract the Arab and foreign capitals to invest in this industry owing to the expectation that the demand for the steel products will rise in the next years in the Arab countries. A number of the Arab countries have succeeded in this field. If the expected production in the Arab countries during 2011 will come close to 25 million tons of various finished products per year, it is expected that the steel consumption will exceed 35 million tons per year due to the rebound of the construction and infrastructure projects which are being witnessed in most Arab countries and also to what the Arab governments are pumping of billions of dollars for their national projects, especially with the rising trend of the oil prices. This is on one part. On the other part, the first quarter of this year has seen political situations accompanied with turbulences which have affected the march of industry, in general and the steel industry, in particular, because the steel industry is the biggest one in terms of magnitude and investment and the leader of the development wheel in any country. Due to this situation a number of production lines have stopped or their production was shrunk because of the fall of the domestic demand for steel products or because of the logistics related to the inputs and outputs of this industry. This has also affected the export transactions of these countries. However, we can see illuminating signs on the track of this industry in the Arab world. This industry has seen several crises of which is the crisis which hit this industry at the end of the nineties of the last century and the beginning of the first ten years of this century, in addition to the global economic crisis which hit the economies of the world at the last quarter of 2008 from which a number of countries have not so far recovered completely.
Despite all these crises, the Arab steel industry has been able to confront them and get out of them with more coherent and more powerful. It has, more even than that, become experienced and capable to cope with such and any other future crises. It has been helped in this by the success it has achieved during the last ten years which have generated in it a strong impetus and motivation to go on more dynamically with confronting challenges and overcome any difficulties which may arise from any local or international political or economic circumstances in the future.
Mohamed Laid Lachgar