UAE Eliminates Import Duties on Steel

The exemption on steel and cement is meant to ensure the stability of the real estate market says the government.

The United Arab Emirates on March 16 eliminated import duties on steel and cement to help the Gulf state's booming real estate sector cope with soaring prices for building materials.

The vice president and prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum, ordered the exemption to ensure the "stability of the real estate market and the growth in construction," the official WAM news agency reported.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also ruler of Dubai, already earlier this week issued a directive lifting import duties on cement and steel in his booming emirate, which is one of seven that makes up the oil-rich UAE.

Several mega-projects are underway in Dubai, including the world's tallest tower and a series of giant artificial islands.

Construction in the Gulf, currently valued at $2.4 trillion, has been hit by increased worldwide demand for building materials, as construction fever spreads to countries such as China. The Gulf region has experienced its own building frenzy over the past few years on the back of record-high crude oil prices, which are pumping huge liquidity into the economies of Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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