CAIRO: In Shaq al-Thu'ban vast marble and granite industrial cluster near Egyptian capital Cairo's Maadi district, about 40 Chinese and Egyptian cooperative granite factories and 30 marble factories have significantly contributed to boosting the industry in the most populous Arab country.

The cluster, which is one of the largest in the Middle East, extends over hundreds of thousands of square meters and hosts hundreds of granite and marble factories and workshops.

The industry has further grown over the past decade, with Chinese businesses holding partnerships with their Egyptian counterparts in the well-known cluster.

The growing number of Egyptian-Chinese factories in the cluster led to the establishment of China in Egypt Stone Material Association (CESMA), which holds training for Egyptian workers and technicians to be familiar with the Chinese machines and the best ways to increase production.

Al-Reda granite factory, one of the largest in Shaq al-Thu'ban with an area of about 15,000 square meters, is an example of the fruitful Chinese-Egyptian partnership in the industry.

“The Chinese brought advanced machinery, technology and relevant accessories to this factory in win-win cooperation with its Egyptian owner," said Li Xin, CESMA's deputy chief.

“The factory has 28 granite cutting machines that came from China three years ago in addition to a large granite polishing machine. This multiplied production and increased quality," Li told Xinhua inside the large factory.

More than 80 percent of the workers in the factory are Egyptians, with a few Chinese technicians who handle the necessary maintenance for the machines and help their Egyptian colleagues with their operation.

Ahmed Mokhtar, an Egyptian sales manager in his 20s, said that the entrance of Chinese machines in the industry helped provide more granite production at cheaper prices in the Egyptian market.

“In the past, granite used to be large plates but the new cutting machines made it thinner with smaller sizes, which is cheaper and more convenient for customers," Mokhtar said.

Mokhtar added that sales of Al-Reda factory have mounted to about 60,000 meters of granite per month.

A few kilometers away from Al-Reda, El-Fayrouz marble factory stands on some 8,000 square meters as another model for such cooperation between Egyptian businessmen and Chinese counterparts.  The factory has 60 workers including 55 Egyptians and five Chinese responsible for technical and managerial work.

“We have been working in this factory for five years and our partnership is beneficial to both sides," said Luo Zhiping, manager of El-Fayrouz factory.

Luo noted that the Chinese partners brought seven brand new marble gang saw machines and five block cutting machines to the factory that increased production and improved quality.

Most of the marble produced by the factory is exported to China, according to the CESMA.

Amer Eid, an Egyptian worker, is in charge of the block cutting machines that prepare and resize raw blocks before going through the gang saw machines.

The 35-year-old man commended the advanced technology of Chinese machines and their constant maintenance which saves time and money as well as makes work more comfortable and productive.

“We as workers like working with the Chinese because of their diligence, commitment, productivity and appreciation of workers," Eid told Xinhua at El-Fayrouz marble factory.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018