The Big 5 achieves "turnaround" with GCC pavilions

The Big 5, which will take place in Dubai, UAE, will host government-funded pavilions from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait for the first time, signifying a dramatic “turnaround” since the crisis

This year’s  Big 5 will feature more international exhibitors than ever before, with between 60% and 65% attending from outside the GCC.
This year’s Big 5 will feature more international exhibitors than ever before, with between 60% and 65% attending from outside the GCC.

For the first time ever, The Big 5 will feature government-funded pavilions from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait.

Following the global economic crisis of 2008/09, the show’s organisers, dmg events, focused on attracting international buyers to meet with UAE exhibitors.

The latest iteration of the event, which will take place next week in Dubai, will see more than 30 international pavilions – including representatives from the GCC’s biggest construction markets – vying for the attentions of UAE buyers.

“Over the last five years, the construction market has changed considerably,” commented Andy White, The Big 5’s group event director, who came to Dubai at the height of the crisis.

“The market was previously one of the biggest construction markets in the world, where any idea was possible. The new reality was that most projects had stalled, and there were very few construction products and materials actually being awarded or sold in the region.

“During that difficult period, we focused all our efforts on bringing in buyers from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and Kuwait. Our short-term objective was to reduce our reliance on Dubai,” he recounted.

Encouragingly, White contends that the good times have returned for Dubai’s construction market – an argument that is supported by the exhibitor make-up of The Big 5 2014.

“It’s perhaps ironic – in fact, it’s very ironic – that whilst we’ve spent the last few years trying to attract more buyers from other GCC countries to Dubai, next week’s event will – for the first time – see three large government-funded pavilions from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, looking to meet UAE buyers,” he explained.

“That really is a turnaround from where we were five years ago,” added White.

However, the appeal of this year’s show has not been limited to the Middle East. The Big 5 2014 has also succeeded in attracting exhibitors from struggling, farther-afield markets.

“This year’s event has attracted more international exhibitors than ever before,” revealed White.

“International companies see the Middle East – particularly the GCC – as a serious export market. Some of our largest international pavilions are from countries you might expect not to be active right now. Italy is our largest pavilion.

“We’re very proud to see an increasing number of exhibitors from countries where construction is slow. In Europe particularly – Italy, Spain, Greece – there’s very little construction. The companies there that are making construction products are looking at the Middle East and they’re exporting. They’re getting funded to do this, and they need to do this to survive,” he said.

This year’s show will host more than 2,700 exhibitors, approximately 60% to 65% of whom hail from outside the GCC. Moreover, a quarter of those showcasing products and services at The Big 5 2014 have never done so before.

This, argued dmg events’ vice president for construction, Matt Denton, is a reflection of the local construction sector’s rude health.

“According to a recent report we commissioned from Ventures Middle East, GCC countries will award over $196bn worth of construction contracts this year,” he told attendees at a pre-show press conference in Dubai.

“This is up almost $34bn compared to 2013. Here in the UAE, Ventures forecasts a 4% increase in the countrh’s GDP this year. This is fuelled by the construction sector,” Denton added.

The Big 5 2014 will run from 17-20 November 2014 at Dubai World Trade Centre, UAE. For up-to-the minute news and in-depth analysis of the event, keep it locked to


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