As the construction industry shows signs of revival, business
activity at the country’s largest glass market has gathered momentum
over the past 18 months.
“The glass business has improved more than fifteen percent in
the past one year due to increased activity in the construction
industry,?says Zubair Ali Khan, owner of Sheesh Mahal and general
secretary of the Sheesha Market Traders Association.
“Monthly demand at the sheesha market in Karachi is between 2,400
tonnes to 3,000 tonnes with imported glass having a much higher
share compared to locally-made glass.?
Mr Zubair says at present monthly turnover of the market is estimated
to be around Rs 30 million but is higher than Rs 26 million recorded
just over a year ago. He attributes the increased turnover to
mass construction of high-rise buildings, flats and large number
of show rooms in the city.
Nearly all types of glass used in the construction industry in
the province of Sindh and parts of Balochistan are supplied from
the sheesha market located at the old Bohrapir neighbourhood in
Karachi. Presently there are 100 shops in the market of which
some 15 shops belongs to importers, who import glass from Saudi
Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia.
Originally only couple of shops were situated in the area owned
by a Bohri family and some Hindu traders. Soon after independence
new Muslim inhabitants arrived in the area and continued with
the business along with some Bohri traders. Later on with the
growth of the city, especially during 1970s, coupled with rising
demand for glass, it became the largest glass market of the country.
Glass imports: Market traders say only float glass is imported
in the country. Float glass is a high-resolution glass that does
not contain bubbles, waves or distortion as this kind of glass
is made when molten glass is floated over molten tin oxide and
“About a decade ago all the float glass used to be imported from
Belgium but after establishment of modern glass manufacturing
units in other countries importers have shifted their focus due
to cheaper rates,?Mr Zubair says, adding that the rates of Chinese
glass is 15 cents to 20 cents per square meter cheaper as compared
to the same product of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Khawaja Masood, owner of Iqbal Sons Glazing Company, says Pakistan
imports about 400 tonnes of construction glass per day, adding
local manufacturers have the capacity to produce 200 tonnes of
glass per day.
“Nearly all the mirrors are made of float glass that accounts
of about 15 percent to 20 percent of imports.?
Six manufacturing units: There are six glass manufacturing factories
in the country including four in Hasanabdal, Punjab, one in Nowshera,
NWFP and one in Karachi. Mr Masood says only roll and sheet types
of glass are made in Pakistan, which are mainly used as window
panes and in some low quality furniture, but he adds that there
is no major price difference between the imported glass and the
“On average, the per square foot price of five millimetre locally
produced glass is Rs 22 at the wholesale sheesha market whereas
same type of imported glass costs Rs 28 per foot,?he says.
Apart from major use of glass panels as windowpanes, doors and
outer walls at boutiques, auto and other showrooms, new variety
of glass are blocks and tiles used as partitions in offices, flooring
and for decorative purposes.
“The glass industry has a bright future in Pakistan and we can
foresee development of glass processing and finishing industry
in the country due to rising demand,?he says.