GN Focus | BIG 5

Big, bigger Big 5

With 2,500 exhibitors from 70 countries represented at the region’s premier construction show, Event Director Andy White tells you what to look out for

  • By M. Sen Special to GN Focus
  • Published: 00:00 November 5, 2012
  • GN Focus

  • Image Credit: Supplied Picture
  • The Big 5, held in Dubai annually for over 30 years, is bigger than it’s ever been
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As many of the region’s huge construction projects are being revived, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are leading the sector’s next growth cycle, according to organisers of The Big 5 exhibition.

The event has been held in Dubai annually for over 30 years, presenting the latest international building and construction products and technologies, and has evolved into an educational platform and a forum for discussion.

Seventy per cent of the exhibitors are from overseas, including 27 national pavilions from countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, France and Greece. We’ve seen a big increase in exhibitors from Turkey, Indonesia and the US but by far the largest increase is from GCC-based companies.

Andy White | Event Director

This year’s show, which is organised by dmg and runs from November 5 to 8 at the Dubai World Centre, is the biggest to date, says Event Director Andy White, with nearly all of the venue’s space being used, including outdoor space for machinery and vehicles. “The show will be 5 per cent bigger, with 2,500 exhibitors from 70 countries,” he tells GN Focus.

“Seventy per cent of the exhibitors are from overseas, including 27 national pavilions from countries such as Italy, Germany, Spain, the UK, France and Greece. We’ve seen a big increase in exhibitors from Turkey, Indonesia and the US but by far the largest increase is from GCC-based companies.”

White says although the last couple of years have been difficult for the industry, the Middle East has performed well compared to other markets, particularly the US and Europe.

One year after the Arab Spring, he believes there are a lot of opportunities in the region. “Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are three of the key markets for the coming years, with significant construction spend projected for each [country].

“We also believe that Kuwait is a country to look out for. Large-scale infrastructure projects are planned and there is money to fund them. Once these projects get approval, we believe there are huge opportunities for product suppliers.”

New profile

However, the profile of the regional buyer has changed following the economic crisis. Most important to the buyer’s needs now are innovative products and techniques that have a competitive edge in an environment where budgets are tight, White says. They also need to meet the demands placed on them by guidelines and regulations concerning the green credentials of new construction projects.

White and his team are trying to meet those needs creatively. Last year marked a significant evolution of the exhibition’s content, with added value elements including the launch of the Green Build Conference and over 130 product and educational seminars. The show floor featured a mixture of product-specific sections in addition to the traditional national pavilions. The popular Platinum Club, that brings together high-level construction industry players with spending budgets in excess of $100 million (Dh367 million), also returned.

All of these will be back this year, alongside new elements. “The Live Demo Theatre will feature specially chosen products from exhibitors, giving visitors the opportunity to see first-hand how products work and how they can be used to save time, money and improve efficiency,” White says.

There are also more seminars than before — a total of 150.

A greater impact may be felt at the Green Build Conference, as the trade begins to implement best practices of sustainable development. “Sustainability continues to be an important topic for The Big 5. Through our range of educational elements, we have worked to ensure the topic can be addressed and discussed in a range of environments,” White says.

Following positive feedback on a subdivision into product sectors last year, this year’s Big 5 
will see that focus further emphasised, with six main categories: kitchens, bathrooms and surfaces; heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); steel; water technology; coatings, adhesives and sealants; and windows and doors. The GCC’s HVAC industry, which is estimated to be worth around $6.4 billion, represents the largest sector at the exhibition.

This year, the show will also host a number of Leed training sessions focusing predominantly on core concepts and implementation.

Middle East Concrete, PMV Live and FM Expo are now operating under The Big 5 portfolio of events. Developed to cater to industry demand, they will provide dedicated zones for buyers, which will focus on those products and services most relevant to each industry segment.

The Gaia Awards

The Big 5 event’s green credentials are further strengthened by its annual Gaia Awards. Now in its fourth year, the awards are established as an essential platform recognising innovative construction products that make a positive impact to the green built environment. “We believe the Gaia Awards are the most credible awards of their kind in the region and previous winners have received international recognition for their achievements,” says Event Director Andy White. The winners will be announced at the Green Build Conference on Wednesday.

— S.M.

GN Focus