As all of our clients and partners will know, one of the key – and defining – components of the success we’ve had with Meraki Ceramics is our ability to manufacture and deliver tiles in the UAE at a fraction of the time and cost of most of our competitors.
Our products and level of service are our differentiators, and so in this blog we assess the impact of coronavirus on these services, as well as on the future and current status of construction in the UAE and around the world.
SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES
The effects of coronavirus on the global supply chain for construction materials is only now starting to become apparent. For those that source their products from the world’s largest supplier of materials, China, there was a period of six to eight weeks where nothing happened. Now the Chinese are returning to normal, but the backlogs remain. As well as our local Sharjah based plant, Meraki Ceramics has factories in both Spain and India. Currently our Spanish factories are returning to normal business, while in India the lockdown is still in place. The length of the lockdown looks set to continue to the end of April, at a minimum. We continue to monitor the situation.
What the sparseness of supply means for projects though, is delays. These are unprecedented times, and we are all feeling the effects. It is vital that we understand the impact of a factory having been out of action for up to eight weeks. The longer that material flow is interrupted, the more challenging it becomes to get production targets back on track. Many are predicting price increases in the coming months, as backlogs create shortages and people see opportunity in the desperate need for materials to avoid costly project delays. This will not be the way at Meraki Ceramics. Our guarantee is that our pricing will remain the same, and that to every possible degree, we will work with our partners and clients to ensure that minimal delays will be experienced.
THE FUTURE IMPACT
The impact of coronavirus on the industry has already been far reaching; from construction sites being closed due to members of the site team having contracted the virus, to cancelled projects as a result of a fear for the future. We are also seeing many redundancies and much uncertainty about the shape of things to come. But let’s be clear: in the UAE, and particularly Dubai, construction cannot afford to just simply stop. A large portion of the economy is propped up on projects. The value of current developments in the UAE is well over $1 trillion; although, to use a coronavirus term, the curve has flattened somewhat in terms of government spending on infrastructure this year.
The majority of projects over the last 15 years in Dubai have been privately financed, but even before the advent of the virus opportunities in the UAE were certainly slowing, causing many firms to position their interests elsewhere (London or Saudi Arabia are two prime examples), or to streamline their businesses models – which usually means redundancies. This existing need to restructure as a contractor or architect firm in Dubai has been exacerbated by this pandemic, and the current circumstances have never been seen before. To say we are in unchartered territory is to massively understate the case. Our industry is built on planning ahead, but there were no plans possible for this. We must learn and mitigate to ensure that if a similar situation ever arises in the future we are better prepared for it.
Humanity will recover, and when it does, people are going to need to spend time in places other than the homes they have been restricted to for the last months. Meraki Ceramics is ready for this time, ready to offer our support and expertise to help ensure our industry remains as stable as possible, so that when this is all over people will have beautiful architecture to interact with once again…