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Exploring the expansion of steel production in GCC and other emerging nations
18 April, 2023
Exploring the expansion of steel production in GCC and other emerging nations

Exploring the expansion of steel production in GCC and other emerging nations.

Steel is a crucial building block of modern infrastructure, from automobiles to skyscrapers, steel finds use in a wide range of applications. While the steel industry has traditionally been dominated by developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, the past few decades have seen a shift in the centre of production toward emerging economies and the GCC nations.  

Countries like China, India, and Brazil have seen tremendous growth in their steel industries, significantly impacting the global steel market. In this blog, we will discuss the development of steel production in emerging economies and its impact on the worldwide steel industry. We will explore the reasons behind this shift, and the challenges faced by emerging economies, for these developing countries.

But how did this happen? 

Steel production growth in emerging economies can be attributed to several factors. One major factor is the abundance of raw materials, particularly iron ore and coal, essential for steel production. Many developing countries are rich in these resources, allowing them to produce steel at a lower cost than more developed countries

Another factor contributing to the growth of steel production in developing countries is government support. Many governments in emerging economies have implemented policies to promote industrialization and economic development, often focusing on developing the steel industry. This support may take the form of subsidies, tax breaks, or infrastructure investments, all of which can help to attract foreign investment and stimulate domestic production. On the other hand the governments of the GCC countries are focusing on diversifying their economy and reducing their dependency on oil hence they too are applying changes to their policies accordingly.

Also, the availability of cheap labour in developing countries has contributed to the growth of steel production. With lower labour costs, it is often more cost-effective for steel producers to operate in these countries.

Here are top emerging steel producing countries:  


China's steel industry has experienced significant growth in the past few decades due to the government's focus on infrastructure and manufacturing development. Steel is a critical material for building structures and industrial processes. However, overcapacity and environmental regulations have posed challenges for the industry, resulting in excess supply, decreased profitability, and increased costs for some companies. Despite these challenges, China remains the world's largest producer and consumer of steel. Its influence on the global steel market will continue as the country prioritizes economic growth.


India is the world's second-largest steel producer, with an annual production capacity of around 100 million tonnes, driven by government policies and infrastructure, manufacturing, and construction investments. The government's focus on the "Make in India" initiative and policies encouraging foreign investment has created new steel plants in the country. Despite facing challenges related to high input costs, overcapacity, and regulatory hurdles, the Indian steel industry is expected to grow in the coming years, with increasing demand for steel in various sectors and the government's continued support. India's growth in the steel industry is expected to impact the global steel market significantly.


Brazil is the largest steel producer in Latin America, with an annual production capacity of approximately 35 million tonnes. The industry has grown significantly due to investments in infrastructure, construction, and mining but faces challenges related to overcapacity and competition from imported steel. To address these challenges, the Brazilian government has implemented measures to support the industry, such as imposing tariffs on imported steel and encouraging consolidation. Despite these challenges, the industry remains an essential player in the global steel market, with a promising future due to increasing demand in various sectors and the government's commitment to its growth.


Russia's steel industry is one of the largest in the world, producing around 70 million tonnes annually, and accounts for a significant portion of its industrial output and exports. The government's policies and investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, and construction have led to substantial growth in the industry. The industry's future looks promising, with increasing demand for steel in various sectors and the government's target to increase production to 100 million tonnes by 2030. However, the industry faces challenges like high input costs, lack of modernization, and ageing infrastructure, which the government addresses through measures to promote modernization and attract foreign investment.

Regarding the ongoing conflict with Ukraine, the impact on the steel industry is challenging to determine as it's complex and persistent. Disruptions in the transportation of iron ore from Ukraine to Russia, and sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russia, could affect steel production in the long term. However, the impact is expected to be minimal compared to other industries, as the Russian steel industry is highly diversified and exports to various countries. The government's policies, subsidies, and investments are expected to help the industry remain competitive and grow.

South Korea:

South Korea is a significant steel producer in Asia, with an annual production of around 60 million tonnes. Recent years have witnessed a substantial expansion of the steel industry in the country, primarily fueled by infrastructure, construction, and manufacturing investments. South Korea's steel industry is expected to grow in the coming years, driven by rising demand for steel in the automotive and shipbuilding sectors.


Indonesia is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and has seen rapid growth in its steel industry in recent years. The country's annual crude steel production is around 7 million metric tons. Indonesia is home to several large steel companies, including Krakatau Steel, Gunung Steel Group, and Bakrie & Brothers. The country has been investing heavily in its steel industry to meet the growing demand from the construction and infrastructure sectors.

To specifically talk of countries in the middle east- 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a significant player in the steel industry and has a considerable annual production capacity of around 17 million tonnes, the second-largest in the Middle East. The country's steel industry is dominated by large companies such as Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and Rajhi Steel, which produce a wide range of steel products, including flat and long steel products, pipes, and wire rods.

Saudi Arabia's steel exports are primarily to countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and North Africa, with a high demand for steel products. The country's steel industry has grown in recent years due to its strategic location and strong government support for infrastructure development. The Saudi Arabian government has invested heavily in infrastructure development projects such as railways, airports, and ports, which has increased the demand for steel products.

The government has also implemented policies to encourage foreign investment in the country's steel industry, which has helped attract international players.

For example, in 2019, ArcelorMittal announced a joint venture with Nippon Steel to build a steel plant in the country, which is expected to have an annual production capacity of 10 million tonnes. Also, to promote foreign investment, the Saudi Arabian government has encouraged the development of domestic steel companies through measures such as tax breaks and subsidies. This has helped to stimulate growth in the country's steel industry and has created new employment opportunities. Hence, Saudi Arabia's steel industry is a crucial contributor to the country's economy. The government's strong support for infrastructure development is expected to drive further growth in the sector in the coming years.


Iran has become the largest steel producer in the MENA region due to significant government investments in the steel industry. The country has an annual crude steel production capacity of around 30 million metric tons, which is expected to grow further in the coming years. The Iranian steel industry is dominated by state-owned companies, with Mobarakeh Steel Company, Esfahan Steel Company, and Khuzestan Steel Company being some of the major players. Mobarakeh Steel Company is the largest steelmaker in the country and is located in Isfahan, and it has an annual production capacity of over 7 million tonnes of steel. The Iranian government has implemented several policies to support the growth of the steel industry, including tax incentives for steel producers, subsidies for raw materials and energy, and the establishment of free trade zones. These policies have encouraged foreign investment in the industry, with companies from China, India, and Europe investing in steel projects in Iran. 

Iran's steel exports are primarily to countries in the Middle East and Asia, including the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey. The country has been able to increase its steel exports due to its competitive pricing and high-quality products. The Iranian government aims to further increase its steel exports in the coming years by expanding production capacity and improving the quality of its products.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) 

The UAE has emerged as a significant player in the steel industry in recent years, with an annual production capacity of around 5 million tonnes. In comparison, the UAE's relatively young steel industry has already established a strong regional presence. Most of the country's steel production comes from a handful of large companies such as Emirates Steel Industries and Conares.

Emirates Steel Industries is the largest steel producer in the UAE, with an annual production capacity of 3.5 million tonnes. The company operates two steel plants in Abu Dhabi and produces a wide range of products, including rebar, wire rod, and heavy sections. Conares, on the other hand, is a private steel manufacturer that produces welded steel pipes and tubes. The company has a production capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year and exports its products to countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.

The UAE's steel industry has been growing rapidly, thanks to the government's support for infrastructure development and diversification of the economy. The country's strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and favourable business environment have also contributed to its success in the steel industry. The UAE's steel exports are primarily to countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Southeast Asia, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar being the largest importers of UAE's steel products.


Qatar has significantly invested in the steel industry to support the country's infrastructure development. In particular, the government has established a new port and steel manufacturing plant in Mesaieed to increase its steel production capacity. The plant, known as Qatar Steel Company, is one of the largest steel producers in the country, with a production capacity of around 2 million tonnes per year. Establishing the plant in Mesaieed has been a strategic move by the Qatari government to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil and gas revenues. The government has been investing heavily in infrastructure projects, such as airports, highways, and rail networks, requiring significant steel.

Qatar Steel Company produces many products, including rebar, wire rod, billets, and slabs. The company has also been working to reduce its carbon footprint by adopting sustainable production practices, such as recycling waste materials and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Qatar's investments in the steel industry have contributed significantly to the country's economic growth and development. The steel industry has provided job opportunities for local workers and helped to support the growth of other sectors, such as construction and manufacturing.


Kuwait's steel industry has grown recently, with companies like Kuwait Steel and United Steel Industrial Company contributing to the country's steel production. Kuwait Steel, founded in 1996, is Kuwait's first and largest steel company. The company has a production capacity of over 1 million tonnes per year, with a product range that includes steel billets, rebars, and wire rods. Kuwait Steel has played a significant role in developing Kuwait's infrastructure, providing steel products for projects such as bridges, highways, and commercial buildings. In addition to producing steel products, the company has also invested in environmentally sustainable technologies such as waste heat recovery systems and implementing carbon capture and storage.

To sum up,

Kuwait's steel industry significantly contributes to the country's economy and development, providing employment opportunities and supporting the growth of critical industries such as construction and infrastructure.


In recent years, Oman has been investing in its steel industry to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil. One of the major players in Oman's steel industry is Jindal Shadeed Iron and Steel, a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Jindal Steel and Power. The company operates a state-of-the-art integrated steel plant in Sohar Industrial Port with an annual production capacity of 1.5 million tonnes of steel products. The plant produces a range of steel products, including hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and galvanized coils.

In addition to Jindal Shadeed, Gulf Tubing Company is another significant contributor to Oman's steel production. The company operates a pipe manufacturing plant in Sohar and produces a range of steel products, including black and galvanized pipes, hollow sections, and cable trays. Oman's government has been actively promoting the development of its steel industry by providing incentives and support to local and foreign investors. The country has also invested in infrastructure to support the sector's growth, including establishing Sohar Port and Freezone, which is strategically located near the Gulf of Oman and has become a significant hub for steel trade in the region. Hence, Oman's steel industry is expected to grow in the coming years, supported by vital government initiatives and increasing demand for steel products in the region.


Bahrain's steel industry is smaller than some of its neighbouring countries but still plays a significant role in the region. The Gulf Aluminium Rolling Mill Company (GARMCO), located in Bahrain, is one of the largest steel plants in the area. The company specializes in flat-rolled aluminium products and steel products like hot-rolled coils.

GARMCO was established in 1981 and has since become a significant player in the steel industry in the Middle East. The company's products are widely used in various industries, including construction, automotive, and packaging. GARMCO's success can be attributed to its commitment to quality and innovation and its strategic location in Bahrain, which provides access to key markets in the Gulf region and beyond.

While Bahrain has a comparatively small steel industry, it significantly contributes to the country's economy. The government has taken several measures, such as investing in infrastructure and technology and offering incentives to foreign investors, to encourage industry growth. As a result, Bahrain's steel industry is predicted to expand, and GARMCO is expected to play a crucial part in this development.

To conclude, 

With developments around the world, there are a lot of players in the steel industry today emerging that are making their impact today and have challenged existing players like Japan, the U.S., and Europe with their capabilities and technology in future. We will see many prominent players in the global steel market.