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Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 16 June 2021 – Securing a bright future for the GCC’s chemical industry will require bold leadership that adapts to the new trends emerging in the post-pandemic reality, said speakers at the inaugural edition of the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Leaders Forum held today at the Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels & Resorts, UAE.

Delivering the inaugural address at the forum, Yousef Al-Benyan, Chairman, GPCA and Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC, said industry leaders would need to change how they think about growth, innovation and their operating models. He highlighted a major acceleration – during the pandemic – of already established trends such as digitalization, a re-energized focus on sustainability and innovation, circular economy, the move towards decarbonization and renewable energy, as well as the energy and materials transition among others.

The pandemic emphasized the power of collaboration, without which, the world would not be anywhere near global recovery, he remarked. The industry’s challenge now shifts to building a new ecosystem that allows us to thrive in the long run, Al-Benyan added, expressing his confidence in the industry’s ability to emerge even stronger from this period of change.

Buoyed by a gradual economic recovery within the region and its largest export market – China, the GCC chemical industry is well positioned for long-term growth. Real growth in the GCC region is expected to be at 2.5% between 2021-2023, while China is targeting 6% growth in 2021. This may be a welcome development but comes with its own challenges, as the Asian country accelerates its move towards self-sufficiency in chemicals which will reduce demand for imports from the GCC region.

H.E. Khalid bin Saleh Al-Mudaifer, Vice Minister for Mining Affairs, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, KSA, commented: “It is an honor to speak at the GPCA Leaders Forum. Identified by Saudi Vision 2030 as the third pillar of Saudi industrial growth, alongside petroleum and petrochemicals, the mining sector is an important part of Saudi Arabia’s economy. The pandemic sharpened our focus on the sector’s resilience and today, Saudi Arabia is in a prime position to support the expected increase in demand for minerals – domestically, regionally and around the world.”

Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, added, “Chemical industry leaders must leverage the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and lead with a renewed sense of purpose to create value for its shareholders, costumers, society and our planet. The next decade will require companies to embrace people centricity, innovate and adopt agile decision making. To succeed, the industry would also need to drive customer collaboration and formulate effective partnerships. It would need to develop products that meet the future needs of our times and demonstrate leadership in the digital transformation.”

Esteemed speakers at the forum included c-suite executives Mutlaq Al-Morished, CEO, TASNEE, Hazeem Al Suwaidi, CEO, Borouge, Dr. Silja Baller, Insights Lead at the Centre for the New Economy and Society, World Economic Forum (WEF), Dr. Salim Al Huthaili, CEO – Alternative Energy, OQ, and Miguel Azevedo, Managing Director, Head of Investment Banking, Middle East and Africa, Citi among others.

Fernando J. Gómez, Head, Chemical and Advanced Materials Industry, World Economic Forum (WEF), delivered a teaser presentation as part of session two entitled ‘The industry reimagined: What does the new decade have in store?’

The inaugural edition of the GPCA Leaders Forum, an exclusive c-suite event, attracted 83 senior industry leaders from 58 companies. The forum was held under the theme ‘In pursuit of resurgent growth during turbulent times.’

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