Going live: prepping for The Big 5, MEC & PMV Live

As The Big 5, Middle East Concrete and PMV Live approach, dmg::events provide the lowdown

ANALYSIS, PMV

This year’s Big 5 will have a special focus on architecture and design, looking at sustainability, the legacy of the Milan Expo and green building techniques. The 35-year-old event will be held at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, from November 23 to 26, 2015.

“For the Middle East construction industry there is no bigger event than The Big 5 Dubai and I’m excited to be part of it,” says Josine Heijmans, event director for The Big 5 Dubai.

Heijmans took over the show earlier this year, but has been in Dubai for eight years and previously worked on shows related to the construction industry across China and Europe.

The Big 5, Heijmans says, is not only the leading construction platform in the region for network and the viewing of literally thousands of products across all sectors, but also a show that stands apart for its provision of free content.

“I have visited many other events in the world and there you had to pay for workshops, while here you can attend close to 75 CPD workshops for free,” says Heijmans.

In 2014, 80,178 participants gathered at the Dubai World Trade Centre during the four days, which was an increase of 9% on the previous year — and this year is set to be bigger, closer to 85,000 according to Heijmans. In all, there are an estimated 36,000 products from 63 countries (70% international and 30% from GCC) are expected to top 3,000 from 2,800 last year.

“Planning is the key to get the most out of your event visit,” says the event director. “Firstly, download The Big 5 app on your smartphone. It’s easy and makes your visit to the Dubai World Trade Centre more efficient.

“Next, get a feel for the layout of the show: see where the sections that interest you are located, check the individual companies, network with industry peers and look through the programme of workshops and talks. Also make sure to benefit from the ‘print-at-home’ badge after pre-registering your visit to the show to avoid the queues on-site.”

“Decide how many hours you feel you’ll need there — then double it. There’s so much to see.”

Also, this year, extra attention has been paid to the aims of distributors at the show.

“One of the difficulties for distributors was to meet with new manufacturers. They came to the show to promote their existing products, but might not get the opportunity to take on new lines,” says Heijmans.

“This year we have addressed that directly and on the third day of the show we have an event specifically for key distributors to meet international manufacturers with products new to the region.”

Heijmans continues: “The Big 5, for thousands of people, is the chance to meet, exchange ideas and do business, but it is also about entertainment and this year’s live demonstrations promise to be a key attraction.

Last year’s show was a sellout, with no space unfilled. This year the added ‘The Big 5 Focus’ has increased the capacity of the event.

The Dubai World Trade Centre is completing a 15,600 m2 extension to be added on to the venue’s current indoor complex space, which will bring the available multipurpose indoor event and exhibition capacity to over 122,000m2.

The Big 5 will be the first show in Dubai to occupy this new hall and it will be an opportunity for companies who couldn’t find space in the past to now have a chance to sign in — whereas in the past they were put on a waiting list. Also, companies who wanted to expand their space can similarly move into the Big 5 Focus Hall.

“We are growing the show from 52,000 m2 to 56,000m2 thanks to this expansion,” Heijmans says, adding: “The Big 5 Focus is almost a show within a show with even more international exhibitors, free CPD certified educational sessions on project management and construction technology, as well as prize giveaways. Focus will be a must-visit section at the show.”

There is also The Big 5 Platinum Club — an invite-only fellowship, where key buyers from the region gather to make decisions for all the largest projects. Heijmans teases: “The club is growing from a current 650 members and we set up meetings in advance with key companies they would like to meet.”

With many GCC countries putting emphasis on green and regulations, The Big 5 is also, for the 8th year running, hosting the GAIA awards — prestigious honours for products and services in the green buildings sector. “But for the first time, the winner will receive a prize worth $50,000 in marketing,” says Heijmans. Then on the 2nd show day in the Focus Hall, The Big 5 will announce the winners in nine categories.

Asked it the construction economy appears to be on solid ground, Heijmans concludes: “I feel the outlook is quite positive and the GCC is investing heavily on social infrastructure and there is healthy population growth.”

BROADER PERSPECTIVE

According to Ventures Onsite, the total value of construction contracts awarded across the GCC is expected to decrease only slightly from $196bn in 2014 to $194bn in 2015. The GCC contractor awards in building and infrastructure sectors are estimated to also decrease slightly from $144bn in 2014 to $141 bn in 2015.

GCC governments are estimated to spend a total of $90bn on building schools and universities and 2015 is also likely to be the year for increased affordable housing construction.

However, construction in the GCC will increase in value despite a slight dip in the overall contract awards this year, according to the man behind the region’s biggest construction event.

Andy White is vice president of dmg::events ME, the company responsible for The Big 5. He notes: “The Big 5 in Dubai is a main focus for suppliers to the region from across the world. Major infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE have and will continue to drive diversification, and what we’ve also seen is large-scale investment being sustained across Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.

“The $194bn figure for contract awards is two billion down on last year, but lower oil prices will mean materials and transport costs will fall and that will filter down to contract values.”

White continues: “A lot has been said about how oil prices might affect construction markets, but each of the GCC nations has continued to invest heavily in infrastructure.

“Kuwait has more than trebled its contract awards this year, the Saudi government has made it clear that it will continue to invest, and the UAE has revealed spectacular projects.

“The GCC Secretariat General has also announced that the Gulf Rail network is on track to meet its 2018 deadline.”

The expansion of the show this year to fill the brand new hall space at Dubai World Trade Centre with the section called The Big 5 Focus is dmg::events’ own vote of confidence in the market and a steady increase in demand for certified equipment, building materials, and expertise.

White concludes: “The Big 5 is the global meeting place for the construction sector and The Big 5 Focus has been designed to make it even easier to find certified products that are available locally.”

As in previous years, two major shows will be co-located with The Big 5. These are Middle East Concrete 2015 and PMV Live 2015, the show for all the equipment involved in construction. All three shows will run concrurently from November 23-26 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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