Big 5 2015: What should visitors expect?

Event director for The Big 5, Josine Heijmans, reveals why she expects this year's show to surpass the 2014 edition

INTERVIEWS, Big 5, Projects

The Big 5 2015 will have a special focus on architecture and design, along with sustainability, the legacy of the Milan Expo, and green building techniques.

The event, which has been running for 35 years, will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 23-26 November, 2015.

Josine Heijmans, the trade show’s newly-appointed event director, comments: “For the construction industry in the Middle East, there is no bigger event than The Big 5 Dubai, and I am excited to be part of it.”

Although Heijmans only took charge of The Big 5 earlier this year, she is no newcomer to the Middle East. The event director has been living in Dubai for eight years.

The Big 5, Heijmans contends, is the leading construction platform in the Middle East, offering an opportunity to meet and network with a broad selection of industry professionals. It also boasts a range of free content for visitors, she adds.

“I have visited many other events in the world. There, you have to pay for workshops, while here [at The Big 5], you can attend close to 75 continuing professional development (CPD) workshops for free,” Heijmans tells Construction Week.

In 2014, 80,178 participants gathered at Dubai World Trade Centre for the four-day event – an increase of 9% over 2013. This year’s show looks set to grow further, with close to 85,000 visitors anticipated, explains Heijmans.

An estimated 36,000 products and exhibitors from 63 countries (70% international and 30% from GCC) are expected during this week’s event.

“You should first 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. Decide what interests you and start planning your event visit well in advance,” advises Heijmans.

The event director adds that this year, extra attention will be paid to the role of distributors.

“One of the [previous] difficulties for distributors was to meet with new manufacturers. They came to the show where they are promoting their existing products and may not get the opportunity to take on new lines,” Heijmans explains.

This year we have addressed that [challenge] directly. 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.”

The Big 5 represents a chance for construction professionals to meet, exchange ideas, and do business, according to Heijmans. “But it is also about entertainment, and this year’s live demonstrations promise to be a key attraction,” she adds.

Dubai World Trade Centre is currently undergoing a 15,600-sqm extension, which will take the venue’s indoor capacity to 122,000 sqm. The Big 5 2015 will be the first show in Dubai to occupy this new space, enabling those who have been unable to secure a booth in previous years to make their show debut.

“We are growing the show from 52,000 sqm to 56,000 sqm, all thanks to this expansion,” Heijmans explains.

With many GCC countries increasing the emphasis on green building practices and regulations, The Big 5 2015 will host the Gaia Awards for the eighth consecutive year. The ceremony will recognise products and services within the green buildings sector.

“And for the first time, we are giving away prize money with a market value of $50,000 to the winner,” Heijmans concludes.

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