Lightweight concrete blocks known as Insulite are now being produced in the UAE to meet today's construction demands for blocks which provide insulation and waterproofing, and which have lightweight and acoustic properties, according to the recently-established National Insulated Blocks Industry.

The company, which started production of Insulite blocks in Dubai last November, claims these blocks mark a revolution in building construction by offering these and other important benefits such as strength, material savings, and fire-resistance, as well as being easy to cut.

The company has already made successful inroads into the local market, having clinched landmark projects such as The Green Community, Emaar's The Meadows and a private hospital in Jumeirah.

"We are the only manufacturer of our particular kind of lightweight polystyrene concrete blocks and there is tremendous demand for such blocks in the market," says Dr Shibli Abi-Shaheen, executive manager. "Our blocks have been well received in the market and Dubai's new regulations making insulation mandatory in new buildings have helped boost our business considerably.

"Insulite blocks mainly comprise a mixture of cement and polystyrene beads. The light weight of Insulite bricks make them particularly suitable for use in high-rise buildings as they reduce the load on the foundations and, being shock-absorbent, they offer resistance to earthquakes and wind loads."

National Insulated Blocks Industry's factory is located in the Dubai Investments Parks and has a daily capacity to produce 20,000 blocks measuring 20 by 20 by 40 cm and 45,000 blocks measuring 10 by 10 by 40 cm.

In line with Dubai Municipality's moves to tighten regulations on fire resistance and acoustic properties of building materials and the thermal conductivity of walls, the company's blocks are now being tested for compliance at laboratories in Europe, says Dr Shibli, who adds that there is a pressing need to set up such facilities in the UAE.

Buoyed by the initial success it has enjoyed in Dubai, National Insulated Blocks Industry is pushing ahead with plans to set up similar factories elsewhere in the Gulf, with a contract having already been signed for such a facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and negotiations on for units in Qatar and Oman.