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The Big 5 2017: The biggest news stories from the Dubai show

by CW Staff on Dec 2, 2017

HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum inaugurated The Big 5 2017, which was held between 26 and 29 November, 2017, at Dubai World Trade Centre.
HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum inaugurated The Big 5 2017, which was held between 26 and 29 November, 2017, at Dubai World Trade Centre.

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Solar the new shining star as GSHK records $26m deals in three days

More than 2,500 exhibitors from 60 countries made their mark at The Big 5 2017, held in Dubai last week. HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and chief executive officer and chairman of the Emirates Group, inaugurated The Big 5 2017 – and the co-located Big 5 Solar show – on 26 November. HH Sheikh Ahmed also took a tour of the exhibition space, which occupied all of Dubai World Trade Centre.

As of 28 November, 2017 – the exhibition’s third day – deals with a combined value of $26m had been confirmed at the GSHK stall, which was present at The Big 5 Solar 2017 show.

In terms of educational offerings, The Big 5 2017 featured the Excellence in Construction Summit (26 November); The Big 5 Innovation in Precast Summit (26-27 November); and The Big 5 Talks, a series of 72 Continuing Professional Development-certified seminars that took place during the event.

Commenting on the exhibition on the day of its launch, Josine Heijmans, portfolio event director of The Big 5, said: “The [latest] edition of the event will mark a turning point in the construction industry, settling the way to build better, more efficiently, and develop smart, sustainable cities.”

Inaugural summit points to precast weaknesses

The construction industry needs to do a better job of diagnosing weaknesses in designs that use precast concrete in order to avoid oversizing, according to Halûk Sucuoğlu (right). The director of the structural and earthquake engineering laboratory at Turkey’s Middle East Technical University told Construction Week that precast systems were typically considered weaker compared to site-cast concrete, an assumption with which he said he disagreed: “That [perceived] weakness is compensated through overdesign, which is not rational. You don’t try to overcome a weakness by overdesigning. You address it by diagnosing the weakness properly.”

One of the speakers at the Big 5 2017’s inaugural Innovation in Precast Summit, Sucuoğlu highlighted the need for performance-based seismic designs to boost the earthquake resilience of structures made of precast concrete: “In the Middle East, cast-in-place concrete still probably dominates the market, but precast systems have the advantage of quality because they are produced in factories. Precast emulates reinforced concrete, and adheres to the same codes and [standards].”

However, Sucuoğlu added that a precast system’s vulnerability to earthquakes tended to involve the connections made on site: “The connection, which is made at the site, should be done properly – not only in the execution, but also in the design.”

Contractor pre-qualification key to success

The success of construction projects depends on the right pre-qualification process being implemented, which requires sound contractor selection.

These were the views of Dr Shetha Alzubaidi, chief exective officer of Brookson Project Management, who delivered a speech on Day 2 of The Big 5 2017. A pre-qualification process, she continued, should include “an elimination stage, wherein contractors are screened [to] shortlist qualifiers who would then move on to tendering stage”.

She told Construction Week: “The main responsibility should [belong to] the main contractor. If there is any delay from the [sub-]contractor, it is the their responsibility to overcome this problem. Currently, it is the client’s responsibility, and all the main contractor [does] is send letters reserving rights for claims. The main contractor keeps passing the ball to the client who appointed the [sub-]contractor.”

UAE’s MEP sector to grow by 20%

The UAE’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) sector is set to record 20% growth in the months to come, Fabio Sbacches, MEP manager and project manager at LC and Partners Engineering Consultants, said. Sbacches was speaking at one of The Big 5 2017’s MEP Talks sessions.

In conversation with Construction Week, Sbacches said that while value-added tax remained “a foggy area” for the market, its overall impact would not be negative, adding: “Only the client will be affected by VAT, because all the companies will take the 5% and pass it on to the sub-contractor.

“In Europe and the US, VAT has been implemented [for a while] without causing any problems to companies.”

Sbacches said that the mismanagement of funds was causing cash flow problems in the market, adding: “I have seen so many projects that are stuck. Not a single project was stuck because of technical issues.

“Clients have started to engage with professionals for project control and scheduling,” Sbacches added.