Standardization News

ASTM Board of Directors in the UAE

Board members fanned out across the region, connecting with hundreds of members, customers, partners, and other stakeholders.

On Oct. 18, ASTM staff and board members held about 25 outreach events and meetings in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, including:

  • Meetings with companies and trade associations from many fields, such as oil and gas, steel, concrete, corrosion, building facades, piping, 3D printing, nuclear energy, and more;
  • Roundtables with representatives from leading laboratories;
  • Meetings with government leaders, including the UAE’s standards body, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA);
  • Discussions on metrology topics with the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council, ESMA, and the Standardization Organization of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GSO);
  • Speaking engagements with students and others at top universities;
  • A workshop with amusement park industry leaders and more.

On Oct. 20, ASTM International and the International Code Council co-hosted a Sustainable Construction workshop in Dubai, supported in part by the U.S. International Trade Administration.

This year, ASTM and GSO are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their memorandum of understanding. ASTM also has memorandums of understanding with the standards bodies in every Gulf nation. Hundreds of experts from the region serve on ASTM International’s technical committees, and ASTM standards have been cited more than 4,000 times in the region’s regulations and codes.

Board member H.E. Nabil Molla helped organize the events. As secretary general of the GSO, he helps to coordinate standards and conformity assessment activities across the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

ASTM Board

ASTM International’s 2016 board (front row, from left): Vicky J. Taylor, Claudia V. Kropas-Hughes, Christina A. Lomasney, Brent Stucker, Jun Sasaki, Past Chairman Ronald J. Ebelhar, Cesar A. Constantino, James J. Simnick; (middle row, from left) Deryck M.S. Omar, Past Chairman Thomas A. Schwartz, Nabil A.A. Molla, President James A. Thomas, Chairman Ralph M. Paroli, Executive Vice President Katharine E. Morgan, Vice Chairman D. Thomas Marsh, Vice Chairman Dale F. Bohn, Franceen Gonzales, Ferdinando E. Aspesi; (back row, from left) Bertrand Morel, James A. Tann, Lawrence D. Carbary, Andrew G. Kireta Jr., R. James Galipeau, Steve D. Sandstrum, John R. Logar, Finance and Audit Committee Chairman Taco van der Maten.

Ambassador Leaf 

The U.S. ambassador to the UAE, Barbara Leaf, makes keynote remarks during a dinner at which James Thomas, ASTM president, was given a letter of commendation and congratulations on his upcoming retirement, signed by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.


ASTM board members dine with honored guests Abdulla Al Maeeni, director general, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology, and Rashid Bin Fahad, United Arab Emirates minister, environment and water, who provided remarks.

Board members James Tann (left), Steve Sandstrum (third from left), and Bertrand Morel (third from right), and ASTM staffer Jeff Grove (second from right) meet with leaders involved in Masdar City, a planned city near Abu Dhabi designed to rely on solar and other renewable energy.

Board members Ferdinando Aspesi (second from left) and Brent Stucker (third from left), and ASTM staffer Brian Meincke (second from right) meet with top experts from Sinterex, a 3D metals printing company based in Dubai.

James Olshefsky, ASTM staff (left), and board member Cesar Constantino (third from left) meet with faculty and students at NYU–Abu Dhabi. Board members also held events at ALHOSN University and Khalifa University.

100th Memorandum of Understanding

James Thomas

On Oct. 18, at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, ASTM President James Thomas announced the signing of ASTM’s 100th memorandum of understanding. The MOU program supports the use of ASTM’s international standards while also encouraging global participation in our standards development process.

“This program has been crucial in supporting the global standards community, starting with our first signatory, Colombia, to Gulf nations including the UAE, to Montserrat, our 100th,” said Thomas. “These signings reflect ASTM’s broad and deep commitment to World Trade Organization principles such as openness, transparency, and the development dimension.”

“We are thrilled that Montserrat is joining this well-known program,” said Deryck Omar, CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality, or CROSQ, in the Caribbean. “It’s clear that ASTM International standards are recognized worldwide for their high technical quality and market relevance,” said Omar, an ASTM board member.

During his presentation, Thomas unveiled ASTM’s new Global Cooperation webpage featuring all 100 countries and regions, including Monserrat as well as Myanmar, which became the 99th MOU partner during the previous week.

MOU partners receive these benefits:

  • Free participation in ASTM technical committees;
  • Access to a robust collection of ASTM standards for the national standards body;
  • Education about ASTM International’s standards development process and technical content;
  • Minimized duplication of effort in standards development at the national level;
  • Communication, awareness, access to special programs; and more.

These benefits are particularly helpful in addressing challenges such as overcoming barriers to trade.

Thomas made the announcement during “outreach day” of the weeklong activities of the ASTM International board of directors in the United Arab Emirates. Thomas’ speaking engagement – alongside ASTM board chairman Ralph Paroli of the National Research Council of Canada – was supported by the Abu Dhabi Chamber, the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the U.S. Embassy as part of its Discover America Speakers Series.

ASTM overall global engagement has grown alongside the MOU program. Over the past 10 years, membership in ASTM committees has increased 42 percent outside the United States. At the same time, ASTM has opened several additional offices throughout the world.

Knauf UAE Leverages ASTM Construction Standards to Succeed in the Gulf


From left, Amer Bin Ahmed, managing director of Knauf Middle East and India, met with Thomas Schwartz, past ASTM chairman of the board; Ralph Paroli, of the National Research Council of Canada and current ASTM chairman, and James Thomas, ASTM president.

Amer Bin Ahmed, managing director of Knauf Middle East and India, met with ASTM directors and staff in Abu Dhabi. Here, Bin Ahmed provides insight about Knauf’s work in Dubai and how the multinational company, founded in Germany, uses ASTM standards to boost its competitiveness.

How has Knauf UAE contributed to the skyline of Dubai and UAE cities? 
Knauf has completed a significant number of iconic, high-rise, premium build projects across the United Arab Emirates region, each satisfying various uses including residential, commercial, and mixed use builds. Landmark projects including the prestigious Burj Khalifa, the Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina, and the Dubai Opera House, are some of the projects in which Knauf products and systems have been implemented to allow complex interior design schemes and features to be realized.

How are standards, including those from ASTM, integral to Knauf’s products and services in the United Arab Emirates?
As a market leader in the manufacturing of gypsum and gypsum-related building materials and systems, Knauf has focused heavily on contributing to major projects and developments across the UAE. As a trusted and reputable manufacturer with global presence, system testing and accreditations in line with ASTM, UL, and EN standards remain a priority. The active approach and investment taken towards ASTM testing with Intertek specifically to gypsum-related codes has given us an advantage over many of our competitors in the market, allowing us to work with regional architects and consultants to satisfy design requirements in line with ASTM specifications.

What information tools does Knauf use and how do they help in using standards?
The Gypsum Association’s Fire Resistance Design Manual is a resource that the Knauf team utilizes often and has proven critical when considering fire ratings for bespoke design requirements. The same resource also supports with acoustic considerations by providing evidence from consultants and clients relating to anticipated system performance. As well as giving the Knauf team a reference for design recommendations, it also improves customer confidence by giving a means to cross-reference Knauf systems to others also available in the market. This in turn allows an informed design to be developed in line with required ratings and limits.

What is your opinion on the future development of ASTM in the Gulf region?
With design safety and regulations ever increasing in the GCC [Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf] region, the requirement for manufacturers to enforce international design codes is critical. With a wealth of knowledge in ASTM design, testing, and accreditation, the Knauf team are in a strong position to continue developing innovative products in line with design code requirements. With our strong and trusted reputation in the market, Knauf will continue to enforce sustainable design and with that, the importance of structural, fire, and acoustic parameters to support local authorities and developers.

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