The Big 5 International Building & Construction Show, the largest construction exhibition in the Middle East, came to a close on Nov. 26 (local time) with a great success amid the slow regional and global economy.
This year’s four-day event held at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the 35th edition of the event, has drawn over 85,000 participants, up 6 percent from last year, and 3,000 plus exhibitors from 174 countries worldwide, according to dmg, the organizer of the event. The top visitors were those from the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt and Pakistan. The top exhibitor countries from Europe were Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece and the U.K. South Korea sent 107 exhibitors to the event.
Due to a strong demand for participation, the available floor space was expanded by eight percent to 56,400 square meters this year from 52,265 square meters last year, following the expansion of Dubai World Trade Centre. The expanded floor space was used to accommodate a new hall called The Big 5 Focus, which made its debut this year to serve an increasing number of visitors seeking information on the challenges and opportunities in construction and project management.
Region-wide Innovative Transformation in Construction Industry
Such strong demand and bigger participation are mainly due to the rapid growth of the construction industry as well as innovative transformation in construction demand and technology in the Gulf countries, including the U.A.E. In particular, the U.A.E.’s construction sector is estimated to grow 9.3 percent this year, compared to 5.5 percent last year.
According to a recent report by Deloitte, the value of both ongoing and planned construction projects in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area totals US$2.8 trillion, particularly for mixed-use mega-developments and transportation infrastructure like airports and seaports.
A report titled “GCC Construction Industry – Trends and Challenges for 2015” also says that the value of contracts to be given this year in the GCC countries could reach over US$194 billion. The figure is down US$2 billion from last year, as lower oil prices are expected to push down building material and transportation costs, which will filter down to contract value, the report explained.
"The Middle East is seeing a region-wide innovative transformation in the construction industry, with projects for mega-events such as the World Expo 2020 in Dubai and 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar coming,” Paul Wallett at Tekla Middle East said in a statement.
Best Venue to Maintain Pace with the Booming GCC Construction Market
In this context, this year’s The Big 5 Show was believed to be one of the best opportunities for professionals and businessmen to connect with the region’s booming construction industry while highlighting the latest products, technologies and trends in the construction industry.
On the opening day of the show, Josine Heijmans, event director for The Big 5, said, “The diversity and innovative level on display at The Big 5 this year reflects the demand for sustainability in the construction industry. Together with the addition of The Big 5 Focus hall, the added education and product demonstration programs will force visitors to spend a couple of days to see everything the show offers.”
Launched in 1979, the Big 5 International Building and Construction Show has served as a platform for the building and construction industry to showcase cost-competitive products and cutting-edge technologies, spanning the entire construction industry from perception to design and construction. The event also provided access to knowledge of the industry with free-to-attend accredited workshops and seminars.
This year, in particular, the event offered more than 75 free CPD-certified and free-to-attend workshops and seminars worth US$250,000 to the industry via a series of live product demonstrations, which were run by industry specialists. The workshops and seminars focused on a range of topics including green building certification, sustainability, business intelligence, design and architecture, affordable housing, and construction technology.
Among the highlights of the whole event were some seminars to offer information on the complex regulatory and legal framework to set up a business and to provide key insights into effective business practices in the U.A.E. Some other workshops provide essential information on market intelligence and potential, business development, cultural diversity management, ethical issues, and so on, helping visitors learn and maintain pace with the booming GCC construction market.
A unique feature of The Big 5 was the Gaia Awards, as a green initiative. It was launched in 2008 to honor construction products and services that contribute greatly to the reduction of the impact on the environment. The winners are eligible to receive up to US$50,000. The award is open to exhibitors and non-exhibitors which have products that are distributed within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area.
Another popular feature at The Big 5 was the Design Summit, which brings together leading architects, consultants, urban planners, engineers and contractors. It provided insights into the latest architectural design trends and technologies in terms of sustainability and cost-competitiveness, while providing an on-the-ground analysis of local (UAE) and regional GCC markets.
Big 5 Show as Priority Destination for Marketing Construction Products
Around 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 (local time), the day before the show closed, some Korean exhibitors were engaged in business talks with buyers while others were more laid back. They, however, looked satisfied and relieved as they participated in the show amid concern over the regional and global slow economy. Most of them were, however, reluctant to expose the specifics of their signed deals, saying that the actual closing of the deals would be followed up after they returned home.
Fanzic (fanzic.com) participated in the event for the 6th year. Manager Kim Jae-yu said, “We signed a contract this time. Even if the deal money does not cover all the cost for participation in the event, we will take part in this event next year, too.”
Another Korean exhibitor sunWood (sunwoodvina.com), which has special interest in the North African market, signed a first deal for 1,000 sets of wood panels from a buyer in Dubai three years ago. General Manager Song Gi-hwan said, “We have sold 2,000 sets of wood panels worth 260 million won (US$224,796) this time to a Saudi Arabian buyer.”
“This year’s participation, which is our 5th, is paying off. Our steady participation in this event is likely to bring in good results,” said Manager James Hwang at Bookwang Steel (bookwangmetal.co.kr). He continued, “Our focus should be likely to move to this event instead of participating in similar exhibitions in the other regions, as we see many buyers come to visit this event from Northern Europe and South West Asia regions.”
Song In-hwe, CEO of Push Bull Company, said, “We have participated in the event since last year. This year seems to be a little slower compared to last year. But I will take part in the show next year, too, as I believe that the bigger the show, the more buyers will come.”
Gen Plus has participated in The Big 5 show for eight years in a row. Managing Director Brandon Song said it joined the exhibition independently this year, though the company had participated in the event jointly with KOTRA for the last seven years. Song said, “We succeeded in signing the first deal three years after the first participation in the show.” He went on to say, “Hallyu (Korean Wave) seems to have given much influence on raising the brand image of Korea and its products in the Middle East.” He added, “If Korean exhibitors jointly set up a big pavilion, unlike this year’s display which was scattered in five areas, it would raise the image and status of the Korean exhibitors as well as create a synergy effect.”
With The Big 5 nearing the close, event director Josine Heijmans said that the event has proven to be another record-breaker for organizers and exhibitors. “It has been a strong show with great exhibitors, fantastic sponsors and the biggest ever educational program,” she added.
The Big 5 Show has now become one of the most highly anticipated construction events not only in the Middle East but across the globe. Consequently, many international construction players are increasingly seeing The Big 5 Show as the priority destination for marketing their products.