Greece marble exporters eye UAE

Fascinated by its colour and symbolism, the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines used marble as both a structural and ornamental material in their public buildings. The ancient Greek sculptors (Pheideias, Polycleitos, Lycipos, Praxitelis) are famous for their spectacular works of architecture and art in marble. Fast forward to today, the Thassos marble from Greece is widely used as flooring in the Grand Mosque and around the Holy Kaaba in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. This is because of its unique property that reflects the sun's rays and heat during the day and keeps the surface cool. It is not surprising that marble exporters from Greece have been looking to the region to boost trade. According to the Greek Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), the total marble exports of Greece in 2016 rose to ?300 million, almost triple in value compared to 2006. In terms of bilateral marble trade, the UAE is the second largest trading partner of Greece (?15.9 million) after the US (?24.4 million). According to data revealed by the UAE Ministry of Economy, the value of marble direct imports from Greece in 2016 was $13.6 million. Khaleej Times spoke to marble exporters from Greece who participated at the recently held Middle East Stone Exhibition. Kostas Protonotarios of Iktinos Hellas SA is proud of his ties with the UAE. "Our marble has been used in Emirates Palace, Dubai Mall, Dubai Opera, five-star hotels and several private projects in the UAE," he informs. Dubai is a very competitive environment, says Fenia Siafaka of Daskalakis Marble SA, with lots of opportunities and projects. "We have the potential to forge strong partnerships. Marble offers luxurious results and we are very optimistic about projects in the UAE." "Dubai is a centre for the Middle East. This is an interesting market for us as we can meet existing customers and look for new ones," says Anatolie Iliopoulou of Marmyk Iliopoulos. "Most of our quarries are located south of Athens where we produce and process marble. We have several projects here, one of them being Atlantis The Palm. Our marble has been used in government projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Healthcare City," she adds. "Interestingly marble is not only used in construction but has other uses such as cosmetic creams," says Christos Dermitzakis. "We've been supplying marble to Makkah and Madinah for the last 16 years. We've worked on several hotel projects and private properties all over the region. We are in Dubai to see our friends and clients, explore new opportunities in business, and also observe new trends in the industry," he adds. Another high-quality marble is Dorian. "We quarry Dorian that is 98.5 per cent calcitic, fine grain crystalline marble with superior characteristics such as low water absorption, high abrasive resistance, and good tolerance in extreme heat conditions," says Vasilis Angelakis of Hellenic Superior Marbles SA. "It is suitable for both interior and exterior applications and has been used in high-end projects such as the Athens Concert Hall and Athens Court of Appeal. Dorian's unique nature makes it ideal for custom-made projects such as artworks, building elements, etc. We want to make our marbles popular with wholesalers, architects and interior designers in the UAE," he adds. Marmara Psofaki SA is a Greek family-owned marble company, founded way back in 1966. "We've marble quarries located in Greece and have a fully automated line for processing marble blocks, slabs and tiles. We can cut to size, decorate and customise according to specifications. We've supplied marble for the Sheraton Hotel project on the Palm," says Sotiris Psofakis. Interestingly, Thassos is the name of white marble that does not get hot in the sun. "It has the unique ability to reflect heat, so it is in high demand. Greeks used marble for building the Parthenon and Acropolis. The marble sector is doing well in Greece. There is a huge demand globally for white marble," concludes Harris Manologlou of Manologlou Marble and Granite.

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