Five minutes with: Nadeem Raza, group CEO, DIA’33

Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East interviews Nadeem Raza, group CEO of DIA’33, on the latest developments in the specialty chemicals industry.

Nadeem Raza, group CEO of DIA’33.
ITP Images
Nadeem Raza, group CEO of DIA’33.

What are the latest trends in the specialty chemicals industry?

Volatile organic compound (VOC) free, green and biodegradable products are the latest trends in the specialty chemicals industry. Seeing the growing concerns regarding pollution, environmental and health issues, environmental institutions are strengthening environmental governance, regulations and enforcement in most of the countries. Such regulations and concerns have generated high demand for alternative applications that contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions, such as water-based paints, biodegradable plastics, solar-powered, rechargeable electronics, and many more.

What are the features that differentiate specialty chemicals from other chemicals?

Specialty chemicals are mainly functional additives those are incorporated in any chemical formulations in very small dosages to achieve and enhance the desired properties of the product. Additives could have direct implication on the performance of the final product, or may act as catalysts to accelerate, retard, or control sequence of reactions.

Products and services in the specialty chemicals industry require intensive knowledge and ongoing innovation. Specialty chemicals, or additives are used to prevent defects, or to achieve special properties in various products. Generic chemical products, or fine chemicals are generally considered as commodities and are consumed in much higher quantities and may have diverse applications. The commodity chemical product of one supplier is readily interchangeable with that of any other.

What are the most important applications of specialty chemicals?

The specialty chemicals market is segmented into infrastructure, construction, agriculture, automotive, aerospace, electronics, and others. Among these, coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE) is expected to remain a lucrative segment owing to numerous innovations that have enhanced the performance characteristics of these materials. Construction chemicals are projected to emerge as fast-growing products owing to the considerably high demand for specialised waterproofing compounds, tile fixing adhesives, joint fillers, and repair and renovation compounds, among others.

On top of all, automotive is also expected to grow with high demand for paints, coatings, lubricants, adhesives and others to reduce weight and foster cost savings. Specialty compounds currently account for about 20% of overall content in vehicles and are likely to increase as OEMs attempt to meet emission and sustainability guidelines and regulations.

What is the status of the specialty chemicals industry in the Middle East?

Since 2016, Middle East has seen a growth in this field by partnering with companies like Dow and Sumitomo. The joint ventures were in the right direction and the region has benefitted from the expertise of both the entities.

Local Middle East industries are also steadily picking up with the technology as well as demand, and use of specialty chemicals, along with a rapidly growing construction market in Saudi Arabia, UAE and Oman, among others. The automotive, electronics and consumer goods sectors are also growing in these countries as a result of high disposable income and the advent of advanced digitalisation. Industry dynamics are gradually shifting towards the Middle East and other Asian countries. Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing region that has competitive leverage owing to inexpensive labour and taskforce, trade liberalisation policies and progression of major end-use industries in recently industrialised economies.

Which are the specialty chemicals in maximum demand worldwide?

Going green is a very important trend in most industries today, and the specialty chemicals industry is in the same race. Pesticides, construction chemicals, specialty oilfield chemicals, food additives, specialty polymers, mining chemicals, pesticides, plastic additives, printing inks, rubber processing chemicals, specialty paper chemicals, textile chemicals, specialty surfactants, specialty polymers, and water manage-ment chemicals covering various functions as antioxidants, biocides, catalysts, enzymes, separation mem-branes, specialty coatings, and specialty pigments, among others, are the major focus in coming years and will dominate specialty chemicals business.

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