Arabal, a Steady Growth Since 1983

An interview with Mohammed Al Naki, creator and Chairman, Arabal.

by Mario Conserva

The twenty-first edition of Arabal hosted in Oman by Sohar Aluminium came to a close on past November, how would you evaluate the results of this event which became one of the most significant for the light metal?
First of all it must be said that there was an excellent attendance with over 550 registered participants, a clear sign that the extraordinary opportunities which this area has to offer for the aluminium industrial system have been amply confirmed. Regarding contents and themes tackled, I would say that this is a moment of reflection, both for the global political situation and as a consequence for the global aluminium system, the topics discussed here at Arabal have been relevant for quite some time, we helped our participants to focus on them with presentations by exceptional speakers, many trends have been confirmed, in short I would say this was an edition with a high level of contents in a conservative spirit while waiting to understand in which direction our world will move.

Few events linked to aluminium may claim a longevity such as Arabal’s; having been the creator of the event you should be proud of the result…
Arabal has been in existence for 36 years and this is in itself a very positive thing, a sign, to start with, that industrial choices regarding aluminium production made in this region were correct and far-sighted, and evidence of the intense collaborative efforts of the member companies and the continuous support of our partners in the aluminium sector. All companies manufacturing primary metal in the region stood out during these years for the exceptional efforts made to develop individually and collectively, contributing to the success of Arab aluminium which today is worth 10% of all the primary metal produced in the world; in any case I would like to remember especially the most recent events, namely, Sohar Aluminium, represented by the Chairman Mr. Mulham Al-Jurf, and the CEO, Eng. Said Al Masoudi, who hosted this edition of Arabal in 2017, as well as Emirates Global Aluminium EGA, and its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Abdulla Jassem Kalban, for their contributions to make the last 20th edition hosted in the UAE on 2016 a great success. Speaking about recollections, I would like to tell you that there is a bit of Italy in the concept and in the name of our Event, since in the early Eighties I was often in touch with exponents of the Italian aluminium industry, at the time called Alumix or Alluminio Italia, if I remember correctly, and a close friend who passed away some years ago, Frely Sacchi, a profound connoisseur of the market and a brilliant journalist, suggested to me the name Arabal which defines simply and concisely the vision and contents of what later developed.

I have no doubts that Frely Sacchi must have been impressed by your project, he was deeply convinced of the strong ties between aluminium and communication. What impressed you most in this edition of Arabal?
Generally speaking, I am convinced that the rich agenda of sessions and panels have created an integrated approach to overcome the challenges and difficulties that our sector faces at the local, regional, and international levels. Among all topics I would particularly like to highlight the theme of renewable energy for a production of primary aluminium even more closely focused on costs and on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The potential of renewable sources is very high in Oman and in general in the GCC, all of our large companies have been considering the issue for some time and are investing very much in research and development, it is evident that some problems clearly highlighted during the discussions here at Arabal still need to be overcome, such as, cost competitiveness with respect to traditional energy and above all the issue of intermittence. It is likely that for the moment we will have to think about intermediate solutions, such as, hybrid energy.

Let us now consider the next edition of Arabal, where will it be held?
We are considering three solutions: Egypt, Bahrain or Kuwait, all valid and rich in opportunities. It will be difficult to choose the venue for the next edition of Arabal, which will certainly live up to its name and to the expectations.