The past year has seen Emirates Glass pour considerable resources into its research and development operations. We caught up with Executive President Mr. Rizwanulla Khan to find out more
Writer: Tom Wadlow
Project Manager: Matthew Cole-Wilkin
Demand for glass continues to rise. As the global population continues to grow at a whistle-stop rate, industry is responding in kind by producing more products and building more buildings.
This is reflected by the constant growth forecast for the world’s glass manufacturers. By 2023, demand for fabricated flat glass is expected to reach $139 billion, more than double that seen in 2008 before the global financial crisis.
Emirates Glass continues to operate as a regional market leader in the Middle East. Celebrating two decades of existence, the Company has become a go-to for architects seeking the highest quality flat glass across both the Gulf and the wider world.
In September 2017, Executive President Rizwanulla Khan spoke to EME Outlook at length about the firm’s flagship EmiCool range of solar control, multi-functional Low-E and standard Low-E glass designed to minimise solar heat gain into airconditioned buildings in the Gulf environment. He also outlined ambitions to acquire increasing market share and keep ahead of customer needs and technological advancements.
A year on, Emirates Glass is progressing on both fronts. Almost immediately after our conversation last year, the Company secured projects worth $27 million across the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Such projects entailed high performance, energy-saving, reflective coated glass products for the Ministries Complex in Kuwait, the first ever greenhouse being constructed in Dubai, The Quran Park, the Enterprise Command and Control Centre (EC3) for Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, and ITCC Tower and Maad Tower in Saudi Arabia. The firm also won several glass contracts for residential complexes in the UAE.
Commenting on the new business, Khan says: “These prestigious projects for Emirates Glass are a testimony to the growth potential of its high-quality, energy-efficient products.
“The Company has an excellent portfolio of projects in the Gulf region and beyond, which has cemented its credibility as a trusted supplier of glass products in the region and overseas.”
Knowledge is power
Contract wins and material growth aside, the past year has been hallmarked by a dedication to differentiation and innovation.
“Emirates Glass is uniquely positioned in that it is the only company in the UAE with float, coat, processing and research and development (R&D) facilities,” comments Khan. “This affords us flexibility and agility with respect to not only serving our markets, but also developing new products and ideas, which is a massive focus area for us.”
The drive to innovate has been centred around a desire to build a team of young, creative individuals, not necessarily those with experience of operating in the glass, façade or even the wider construction industry.
“The Company hires with a long-term view in mind,” adds Khan. “We are investing in the future.”
These new recruits can draw on expertise in the form of a body of international experts which together amount to more than 150 years of experience. Khan himself, for example, boasts more than 30 years of industry experience, with other highly influential figures including Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mr. Samih Fatayerji, Technical Manager Mr. John Reeves, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Mr. Kurt Russell, Operations Manager Mr. Rodel San Jose and of course the Coating Manager, Mr. Marco Kohs.
Innovate to differentiate
Helping to channel this experience and develop even further knowhow is a new research and development department, fit with separate offices, workshops, labs and training facilities.
“The challenge is how to focus all this power,” Khan says. “It is unwise to put smart, creative, dedicated, knowledgeable people in a secure space and ask them to develop something wonderful without guidance from the market.
“We have created an open and free flowing conduit of information between the marketing team and the product development team. In fact, they work side by and often sit in the same meetings and brainstorming sessions.
“And just as we bring together individuals with a wide range of experience and knowledge both young and, well, not so young, within our own organisation, we also invite others from outside our four walls.”
Since January 2018, Emirates Glass has been running a series of training and idea sharing sessions, inviting leading architects, façade engineers, consultants, framing fabricators and installers to collaborate.
Leading names such as Dubai Central Laboratory from Dubai Municipality, WSP, Al Ghurair, Thomas Bell Wright (TBW) and Koltay Facades have all participated so far. Given the positive response to the sessions to date, Emirates Glass desires to run at least two each month.
“We have found, naturally, that the interests of architects are different from engineers and consultants and that façade companies are entirely different again,” Khan says. “We generally custom design the session to suit the needs of the visitors.”
This is reflected in the diversity of subjects discusses, ranging from principles of energy transfer and the impact on facades to technologies and techniques of various manufacturing processes.
Through continual engagement internally and with the wider industry, Emirates Glass has placed itself in a position to steer the future of the region’s glass manufacturing business. Once more, as Khan emphasises, it is very much a case of watch this space.