Aluminium. From tin cans to airplanes to power lines, the metal is used in just about everything we need to survive.
It is fitting then, that Emirates Aluminium (Emal), a plant dedicated to producing tonnes of it, is expanding in the UAE. Part of diversifying an economy means producing the basic materials a society needs, as we reported yesterday.
It is fitting too, that the location of the plant sits halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai - a testament to the collaborative nature of Emal. As a joint venture between Dubai Aluminium (Dubal) and Mubadala started in 2007, it is one of the largest Emirati companies that represents a long-term collaboration of mutual benefit.
As one of the biggest recruiters of Emiratis, Emal has stood as a model of training and management. Its recruitment strategy - a mix of Abu Dhabi financial expertise and seasoned Dubai know-how - has resulted in a company where careers - not just jobs - are made.
Economically, it has hit the mark as part of the Emirates' diversification strategy: 800,000 tonnes of aluminium should be produced next year, with 1,000 additional jobs expected to be added. This not only increases employment, drives down production costs and increases export opportunity, but benefits the GCC as well.
With similar large-scale smelters online in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the UAE is expected to become part of the world's largest aluminium exporting body within the next decade. Not bad for a region - and a country - that has relied heavily upon oil and gas for its development.
As Emal has shown, the image of the Emirates as a diverse, service-driven economy is gaining traction. Non-oil sectors account for 71 per cent of the country's GDP. Trade - Dubai's traditional strength - accounts for a large portion of that, and is only expected to grow as the emirate rebounds from the financial crisis.
Merging Abu Dhabi and Dubai's strengths has proven time and again that cooperation is the key to the country's prosperity. Manufacturing is but one dimension; trade, tourism and security - as evidenced by this week's anti-piracy conference in Dubai - are other areas of mutual interest that can be explored.
By investing in each other, Abu Dhabi and Dubai not only invest in the future of the nation as a whole, but in the future of a stronger and economically robust region.