Assessment of the dimension stone resources of the UAE

Mitchell, Clive ORCID:; Bide, Tom; Ellison, Richard; Lott, Graham; Lacinska, Alicja; Parry, Stephen; Entwisle, David. 2012 Assessment of the dimension stone resources of the UAE. British Geological Survey, 212pp. (The geology and geophysics of the United Arab Emirates, Volume 11).

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The term ‘dimension stone’ covers a wide variety of naturally occurring stones used for the external cladding, structure and internal decoration of buildings. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a thriving dimension stone industry that relies on imported stone. In 2008, the UAE imported 217 836 tonnes of dimension stone (blocks and slabs of basalt, granite, marble, sandstone, travertine and porphyry) with a value of over US$42 million. The top countries of origin (by value) are India, Saudi Arabia, Spain, China, Oman, Italy, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Pakistan. The most popular dimension stone is limestone that has a consistently uniform colour (whitish, cream and beige) with little or no textural variation. Dimension stone companies in the UAE are interested in using dimension stone that is produced from indigenous resources. However, currently there is no significant production of dimension stone by the quarrying industry in the UAE. This work, funded by the UAE Ministry of Energy, examines the potential to develop the indigenous dimension stone resources of the UAE. The two major rock types with dimension stone potential are the limestones in the north and the igneous rocks in the central and south parts of the Hajar mountains. The work was sub-divided into five phases: market research, resource identification, field collection of stone samples, technical testwork and preparation of outputs. Traditionally, the local construction materials used in buildings in the UAE include coral, gypsum plaster, lime (from seas shells), mud bricks, stone, wood and thatch (palm leaves). Modern day architecture in the UAE is dominated by prestige building projects which make use of dimension stone from across the world. The most popular includes Crema Marfil (beige-coloured limestone, Spain), Carrara Bianco (white marble, Italy), Rosso Levanto (red serpentinite, Italy), Galaxy Black (black gabbro anorthosite, India) and Emperadore Dark (brecciated dolomite, Spain). The potential dimension stone resources of the UAE are in the Mesozoic platform and deep water limestones (mainly east of Ras Al Khaimah) and the igneous rocks of the Oman-UAE ophiolite. The limestones assessed were selected from a separate project to study the high-purity limestone resources of the UAE. The ophiolite resources assessed contain several bodies of gabbro, a coarse grained igneous rock (five of which were considered), dunite and harzburgite. The potential dimension stone resources were assessed, based on i) the likelihood of extracting blocks larger than 1 metre square, ii) their appearance when polished, iii) their technical properties and iv) the accessibility of the resource location. The outcome of this assessment was a prioritisation (high, medium or low) of the resources as a basis for further investigation into their potential for development as sources of dimension stone. The limestones with the highest priority for further work are the Musandam 2 Formation, Dhera Limestone Formation, Jebel Qamar South Limestone Formation and Jebel Qamar North Limestone Formation. The ophiolite rocks with the highest priority are the Fujairah Gabbro, Kalba Gabbro and harzburgite. The recommendations of this study include promotion of the dimension stone resources to potential investors and research on industrial-scale quarrying and production of blocks for the dimension stone industry in the UAE. It is recommended that the findings of this study are made freely available to interested stakeholders. Also it is recommended that a set of polished tiles is produced to represent the dimension stone in the UAE that could be used to create interest from potential investors, dimension stone companies and clients at trade exhibitions. Publication of a book on the indigenous dimension stone resources of the UAE is recommended. Encouragement should be given for the use of indigenous dimension stone in government building programmes.

Item Type: Publication - Book
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > BGS Corporate
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This item can be purchased from the Ministry of Energy Department of Geology and Mineral Resources PO Box 59 - Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Phone +971 26262288/6126500 Fax +971 26272291/6274612 email:
Additional Keywords: dimension stone, building stone, decorative stone, limestone, marble, gabbro, granite, polished stone
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 31 Aug 2012 11:05 +0 (UTC)

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