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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 November, 2003, 14:03 GMT
Saudis 'fear sand shortage'
Saudi Arabia's Empy Quarter
Sand is plentiful - but expensive to exploit
Saudi Arabia has reportedly imposed strict border checks to enforce a ban on the export of sand.

There are fears that the growing demands of the construction industry could lead to a shortage in the desert kingdom.

The Arab News newspaper reports that neighbouring Bahrain needs to import large quantities of sand for reclaiming land from the sea.

Demand is also expected to grow as the process of reconstruction in Iraq gathers pace.

Although sand remains plentiful in Saudi Arabia, construction experts say the high costs of bagging and transporting make exploiting it difficult.

Experts have told the newspaper that if a mechanism could be devised to move sand from the vast desert region known as the Empty Quarter, it could be a very profitable proposition.

As the paper points out, there is more sand in the kingdom than oil.

Cement is also in high demand, the report says, with many cement factories having to expand their production capabilities to meet domestic demand.

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