This First Tissue Paper Study of The Arab World

Tissue: the Arab world view

This first tissue paper study of the Arab world this century reveals the present state of production in the region and changes over the past five years

This study focused on the current levels of production vs. consumption in this growing part of the world and includes certain projections and market trends, specifically for tissue paper.

The geographical region covered in this study is divided into three major areas: NORTH AFRICA, including countries like Egypt, Sudan, etc…, EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN, including Lebanon, Syria, etc…and THE GCC countries, otherwise known as the ARABIAN GULF.

A- NORTH AFRICA: Egypt, Sudan, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco. This block has 64 % of the total Arab population, it has the larges producers of pulp and paper. It is home to around 150 million people, mostly young consumers. The forests in Morocco cover 85,000 sq /Km and in Algeria 45,000 sq /Km. This indicates the abundance of wood raw materials.

* Egypt is the main producer of corrugated material for North Africa. It operates in a regional market - Arab and Asian - rather than a global marker. Its population is the largest among the Arab world. Its tissue consumption is approx, 78,000 mt / yr (imports ~ 3,000 mt /yr) a mere 1.1 Kg. /capita.


Several investments already took place in Egypt, we list the following:

A new Tissue Mill will begin operation in the beginning of 2005. It is 5.5 m, 2000 m /min and with an annual production of 54,000 mt. from virgin pulp. In addition, there is other 4 Tissue Paper Mills with total production of about 58,000 tons /year.


Many of Egypt's old mills have been recently rebuilt. It has 3 large pulp-producing mills, a 250,000 mt /yr from bagasse and 60,000 mt /yr of BCMTP. Total consumption of pulp is at 466,000 mt /yr. About 90,000 mt /yr are imported along with ~ 2,500 waste imports. It is estimated that 650,000 mt /yr of recycled waste is collected. Most statistics indicate that Egypt will become self-sufficient in pulp recycled waste is collected. Most statistics indicate that Egypt will become self-sufficient in pulp, recycled waste, tissue, paper and paperboard. It is still off by 20 % in pulp, and about 50 % in paper and newsprint. This will be more evident when the 2003 - 2004 figures are all available. A government incentive was given for paper importing in Egypt last year which brought the whole publishing, printing and packaging industries in the region to a price confusion and exports of paper end products rose sharply due to the competitive prices of Egyptian production in this sector. 

* At the end of 1990's, Algeria was still struggling to attract new investments through changes of its government policies. Privatization and new incentives provided by these new policies have helped reshape the economy. Attempts for private industrialists to set up paper production have not radically altered the paper sector. But new horizons are set for 2005.
The largest pulp and paper producing mill are still sate-owned: for instance, GIPEC, previously known as Celpap and Enepac. GIPEC has had some troubles and shut down the Cellulose producing plants. The long-term strategy is to stop esparto and find other alternatives.

The Tissue Paper Mill in Algeria has to begin production on a tissue plant. This plant will be fed 25,000 mt /yr tissue PM with two head boxes and Advantage Yankee hood.
The consumption of tissue is currently about 12,000 mt /yr, approx. 0.75 Kg /capita. In 1999, the total consumption of Paper & Board was 250,000 mts equivalent to 8 Kg /capita. In 2002, it had become 10 Kg / capita. and remains the same in 2003.

Morocco is the second largest producer of pulp and printing paper in the region. Its production is 125,000 tons of Bleached Sulfate (Kraft) Hard wood pulp, derived from Eucaliptis. Also, this short fiber is packaged for export.

The country has one Tissue Mill, producing a meager 10,000 mt /yr, thus bringing the consumption to approximately 11,000 mt /yr and the per capita consumption to 3.5 kg.
The consumption of recovered paper is approximately 10,000 mt /yr used primarily in its SAFRIPAP plant. Only 3 to 4 % of the recyclable material is being collected. We have no exact data on the pulp production. We expect that the recovered paper and other non-chemical pulp imports have increased to sustain the growth in production depicted in 2003.


Tunis is the smallest country in the block with over 50 % of consumption being met by local production. Its 30,000 mt /yr of Tissue produced seem to suffice its consumption with the exception of few imports. This brings its per capita. consumption of tissue close to 3 Kg. Total pulp consumption approximates 85,000 mt /yr of all paper grade and recycling should be high, close to 70,000 mt /yr. The 1999 figures show a consumption of 40,000 mt /yr of recycled waste, 6,000 of which were imported.


Tunisie Ouate was established in 1982 in Infida, 100 Km. far from Tunis the capital, 40 Km. from Sousse and 20 Km. from Hammamet. It is considered one of the first mills in Tunis. It has 2 Tissue Paper Mill Machines. PM1 was started up in 1984. PM2 with new technologies and developments was started up in 2003. Its total production is approx. 23000 ton/year.


In Tunisia, the Societe Nationale De Cellulose & De Papier Alfa esparto pulp is very special, they sell it especially for the production of the paper of cigarettes, where the ton price differs from other kinds of pulp.


Tunis has had pulp production for quiet along time. Its current production 24,000 mt /yr, mostly esparto (16,000 mt /yr) and the rest is wood pulp (8,000 mt /yr) Half of this capacity is market pulp.


Sudan is the last country in this North African block. Some studies reveal that there is some sort of Paper & Board production and a capacity of 4,000 mt /yr. The country has a very low consumption (15,000 mt /yr) and an insignificant 0.4 kg/capita consumption. Its population of approximately 40 million is equivalent to 14 % of the total Arab population, which is close in size to GCC & Yemen (18 %) and also to the Eastern Mediterranean (18 %

B-The Eastern Mediterranean region includes: Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. This region has special characteristics.  


*Jordan has 2 tissue paper mills with a combined capacity of 36,000 mt /yr. Annual consumption is 28,000 mt /yr of tissue. Regarding the small area of Jordan and its low population number in comparison with other Arab countries, a large part of its production is exported to Palestine, Iraq and other countries. Its paperboard capacity is still not very strong. Imports of pulp are 25,000 mt /yr.

Syria has three main Tissue Paper mills of 35,300 mt /yr capacity. In addition to another company that signed a contract for installing a new machine of production capacity 30,000 tons. Most of the Syrian Tissue paper production is exported to Iraq and the region. Syria imports 15,000 mt /yr of chemical pulp and 9,000 mt /yr of waste. But again the waste collection is sketchy. Government studies have indicated that the total imports Paper & Board in the private and public sectors are 180,000 mt /yr, while international agencies have that figure as 160,000 mt /yr in 2001. Figures of 2002/2003 have not yet been justified but paper imports alone were 60,000 mt /yr..

Iraq has 2 pulp (Bagasse, Weed, Bl, HW Kraft) and paper mills. Their Paper capacity of 150,000 mt /yr is from self – processed pulp. They are not running at full capacity and they are state owned. The country's natural resources are plentiful. Their consumption is quiet low and is apparent from the embargo imposed on them. Many of the figures that appear as imports to Jordan were channeled to Iraq. More than 70,000 mt/yr paper were being sent to Iraq through Jordan , Kuwait, Syria & Lebanon.

Lebanon is the smallest in land, population and natural resources. However, its tissue market is very impressive. An estimated consumption of 42,000 mt /yr is equivalent to 11 kg/capita which is the highest in the Arab world. Lebanon has two main mills:

* The first tissue paper mill in the Arab countries, established in 1967, stayed for a long period the only tissue paper mill that feeds the tissue converters in the region. They are in a continuous development. They have 3 Tissue Paper Machines and one Kraft paper machine. 

* The second tissue paper mill has 2 PMs. Their PM1 started up in 1995. They have installed a second PM2 and its production start up will be during the few coming months. They are considered the main source for the tissue paper converters in the region, also it exports to Europe and other countries.


 Mimosa Sanitary Paper Company was founded in Zahle, Lebanon, in 1967. It is consedered to be one of the first companies to operate a tissue mill in the Arab world and for many years was the region's sole prducer. Today Mimosa operates three tissue machines and one kraft paper machine


Pulp imports are 19,000 mt /yr of Tissue Paper and recycled waste collected is close to 150,000 mt /yr of Paper & Board. It is difficult to know the exact value of imported or exported waste.

C- The GCC Countries (Gulf Cooperation Council): Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman along with Yemen form the biggest economic block in the Middle East with a GDP equivalent to 45 % of the total Arab economy. They have a combined population of around 50 Million, most of who can be considered as "young consumers".


Their 'Gulf Custom Union' helped in the increase of intra-regional trade especially in the packaging and tissue markets. Even though these types of products have high bulk and expensive freight, which makes them expensive to import, their flow is not impeded across the Gulf borders. However, in the absence of raw materials, it is still a challenging market.

The tissue industry has just started in the Gulf Area. It is a very dynamic industry. In Saudi Arabia alone, the expected market size is to reach a peak of 110,000 mt/yr by 2005. The demand of toilet tissue paper seems insignificant for AH use, however it is focused in the facial tissue paper. The market potential for tissue will exceed 155,000 mt/year for the combined GCC countries, but will still be below the current production rates. The per capita consumption of tissue in GCC, excluding Yemen, is 4.7 kg/capita (with Yemen the figures become 3.0 kg/capita).

Saudi Arabia is the largest pulp and paper importer and produce in the region. In 2002, its wood free paper consumption reached 130,000 mt/yr, publication paper reached 140,000 mt / year and estimated amount of 230,000 mt/yr included other paper and board.


Saudi Arabia imports 55,000 mt / yr of HW & SW pulp. The rest of the required pulp is produced from recycled fibers from the local markets. Information on waste is patchy, but from our investigation an approximate waste consumption of 260,000 mt/yr is estimated (some 90,000 mt / yr are used in the Tissue industry with 45 % recovery). Most of this produced pulp is usually used for the fluting medium, whereas only 30 % of waste is used in Liner. The rest comes from the imported virgin pulp from Europe and USA( Georgia Pacific, Stora – Enso, M- Real, Henzel , Tembec, Weyerhaeuser, Rayonnier and Arcuruz ) and from Indonesia, South Korea Singapore and Malaysia (April, A.P.P, Hansol, YFY and ShinHo) with the sole purpose of achieving high quality products.

Till this year, Saudi Arabia exports waste to India (approximately 70,000 mt / yr). It should be noted that only 50 % of the waste paper is being collected in Saudi Arabia. This may become a logistic problem when the new recycling mill begin production in 2005 with a required combined consumption of more than 400,000 mt / yr.

The main Tissue Paper Mill in Saudi Arabia is established in 1991. the products are sold in Saudi Arabia and to a growing number of countries in the Middle East and overseas. Its production capacity is 70,000 tons /year using diverse processes and having the flexibility to produce different grads of tissue.


Bahrain has a consumption of approximatly 2,400 mt/y
r. It has only one tissue plant. It produces 15,000 mt/yr of tissue. Most of its production is exported to the countries of the region.


Kuwait consumption is approximated at 15,000 mt / yr and it produces an equivalent amount.
In 2000, the reliance was on pure virgin fluff pulp (chemical pulp) for the production of Tissue. Approximately 50,000 tons were consumed. However, with the expansion witnessed in 2001, and after using recycled fibers, the figure dropped to 36,000 mt / yr.

The 2002 figures show that (KLB & WTKL, TL & WTTL, SCF & FL) consumption for both the GCC and Yemen totaled 765,000 mt / yr.

United Arab of Emirates – U.A.E. has 3 tissue paper mills.


Abu Dhabi National Paper Mill (ADNIP), a newly established Tissue Paper Mill, started production early in 2002. it has been designed to allow for future expansion for second tissue paper mill. the environmental and safety regulation were considered in high standard to have developed this industry. The idea behind establishing this tissue paper mill from the market situation of tissue paper and paper in general. It produces 22,000 tons/year of tissue paper. It starts up in a specialized and pioneer way.


Abu Dhabi National Paper Mill started production early in 2002

-The second Tissue Paper Mill established in 1993 and started its commercial production in 1995. it produces 18,000 tons/year of different grades of tissue paper. Over the years, it earned the confidence of many customers worldwide. Through commitment to quality and service it has customers now in 30 different countries.

-The third Tissue Paper Mill is considered one of the main sources for Tissue Paper. It produces 11,000 – 12,000 tons per year. It produces different grades of tissue. It is focusing on both the local demand and the exportation to the outside market.


This market has witnessed quick increase in consumption trends due to the approaching of large amounts from outside and also due to the quick development of the country in general, in addition to the governmental rules that facilitate the investors work and the availability of industrialist Free zones. U.A. E exports a large part of its Tissue Paper to other Arab Countries, Iran and others.


Economically, the seven Tissue Paper Mills in this area require 208,000 mt/yr at the beginning of 2006 of HW and SW pulp that is imported from the following countries: USA 30 %, Brasil 25 %, Far East 20 %, Canada 15 %, Sweden 9.5 % and Russia 0.5 %.

The word apparent is in its right context here. It signifies that the more a country exports paper as manufacturers, i.e. converted or printed as books or magazines, the more paper it appears to "consume". This consumption results from such paper not being included in that country's paper exports. To this extent, national consumption by the countries own population is exaggerated. It is also evident that consumption of most grades is influenced by demographic trends like population growth and also economic growth. Advertising is a driving force on newsprint and coated WFs. Office technology affects the uncoated WFs. Income level and hygienic standards drive the tissue market. Industry, agriculture, and retail structure influence the corrugate containers and stack consumption.

Table 1

Tissue Producing Country

Total Capacity (tonnes)

















Saudo Arabia











Once the actual consumption is calculated, then these mentioned trends would play an evaluating role in the study of their influence on each of paper grades. Not to forget environmental pressure, legislation and competitive alternatives and consumer behavior.

Recycled waste is supposed to be handled more efficiently. Many countries do not even have recycled waste fiber production; some of them even rely on virgin fiber for products that need low quality material.
Heat recovery in recycled mills should be adopted with closed hood dryers. Also, Water recycling should be handled very wisely because it is also a natural resource which is not very plentiful in the Arab world.


We have collected production / imports /and exports figures for the past several years. We have also screened many of them. We have tried our best to rely on our team work and network resources at one time by screening, analyzing, evaluating and communicating the mills in the Arab world which needs many efforts. On the whole we have begun a project that has been long awaited by the  tissue paper industry. The collected information is the beginning of a database that should be updated and corrected continuously.