Chemicals manufacturer Huntsman Corporation is to build a new polyurethanes systems house in Dubai in a move it says will allow the company to leverage its development and production know-how in polyester polyol and polyol blends for the flexible foam and footwear markets.

Located within the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone (JAFZA), the new facility will increase the company's systems production capacity in the region and add a new dimension to its polyester polyol capabilities.

Targeted for completion by the second half of 2019, the Dubai systems house will complement the firm's two existing systems houses in the Middle East, in Turkey (Huntsman EMA) and Saudi Arabia (HAPC – a joint venture with the BCI Group of Companies), forming three strong pillars for growth.

Tony Hankins, president Huntsman's polyurethanes division, said the investment will serve as a strategic platform to expand the business in the Middle East and North Africa and represents the next step in its plan to strengthen its downstream network.

Meanwhile, Steen Weien Hansen, regional vice president of polyurethanes, noted the MDI-based systems market in the Middle East has delivered strong growth in the last five years - a trend that is forecast to continue at estimated rates of 7% annually.

"The construction of the new systems house will enable us to supply traditional and high-end rigid polyurethane formulations from a local source," he explained. "It will also enable us to leverage our development and production know-how in polyester polyol and polyol blends for the fast-growing flexible foam and footwear markets, as well as pre-polymers for adhesives, coatings and elastomers applications."

Gulum Kabil, general manager of Huntsman polyurethanes' business activities in the Middle East and Turkey, will manage the new systems house.

Earlier this year, Huntsman announced it had developed a new range of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials designed to help footwear makers improve productivity when creating injection-moulded parts.