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Best of the Big 5

Construction Week chats with some of the exhibitors at The Big 5 2016 to discover the highlights of the show


Despite a challenging regional construction market, The Big 5 this year welcomed more than 75,000 participants, breaking last year’s record, according to the exhibition’s organiser, dmg events Middle East, Asia & Africa.

The 37th edition of the exhibition, held at the Dubai World Trade Centre over four days, showcased the latest products and services of more than 3,100 exhibitors from 142 countries, showing significant growth compared to 2015.

On the opening day, more than 13,000 visitors attended the exhibition, whereas on the second day of the event, around 500 industry leaders gathered for the Excellence in Construction Summit, which was organised in conjunction with Dubai Economic Council (DEC). The event also included free Certified Professional Development (CPD) workshops, as well as live demonstrations of a host of products.

Commenting on the success, event director, Josine Heijmans, said: “With The Big 5, we want to provide a platform for the construction industry, setting targets for each edition in order to deliver a top-notch event for our visitors every year.

“While the event acts to support participating exhibitors to do business, network, and create new contacts, it also offers a platform for visitors to get the latest on market trends, key challenges, and ways to overcome them.”

Two key product sectors that were placed in the spotlight this year were smart technologies and sustainability. Demand within both sectors is growing at a rapid pace in the GCC and, increasingly, regional construction professionals are looking for novel ways to develop smart cities and improve green building techniques.

While Acrow showcased its unique range of formwork and scaffolding solutions to the visitors, US-based Portacool brought a selection of evaporative coolers to the exhibition. Not to be left behind, Saint-Gobain Gyproc featured a unique climbing wall and a floating chair for customers, to showcase the company’s new, high-strength plasterboard, Habito.

Construction Week talked to some of the exhibitors to find out how just successful the show proved, and how much interest their products received from visitors.

Five minutes with... Karim Amrouche, Saint-Gobain Gyproc

Karim Amrouche, marketing manager, Saint-Gobain Gyproc, discusses his views on why this year’s Big 5 has proved to be more successful compared to 2015

How was The Big 5 2016 for Saint-Gobain Gyproc?

The show this year was buzzing. We had decided to use The Big 5 as the main launch pad for our new Habito high-strength plasterboard, and this proved to be a huge success with visitors looking to find faster and more efficient building solutions. Our unique Habito climbing wall and floating chair displays had hundreds of visitors flocking to our stand to see and try the new board for themselves. For the second time running, our stand was part of a coordinated display by all Saint-Gobain’s Middle East companies, underlining the breadth and strength of the group’s commitment to the region.

How would you assess the level of interest that your stand generated during the show?

Our stand was one of the busiest in Hall 5, attracting a huge numbers of visitors from around the region. We had done a lot of pre-show promotions for our new Habito board, but for most of the visitors, this was their first chance to see it up close. We concentrated on hands-on activities that demonstrated the benefits of Habito and, as a result, had a constant stream of new and existing architect and contractor customers flocking to our stand from the moment the show opened. Being part of a large Saint-Gobain stand meant we could work alongside our sister companies to present seminars during the show. These seminars proved very popular, attracting large audiences, and gave us access to a wider spectrum of visitors, broadening interest in our range of products.

Which of Gyproc’s products and services garnered most interest during the exhibition?

The main attraction was Habito, our innovative, high-strength plasterboard that supports heavy fixings using only standard screws. It’s ground-breaking technology and unique, dense, gypsum core makes it a robust and fast-build alternative, when compared to traditional blockwork, for a range of building types including hospitals, schools, hotels, offices, residential apartments, and villas. Our display featured a four-sided interactive wall that demonstrated the strength, fixing ability, and superior acoustic performance of the new board. It included a 5m-high Habito climbing wall visitors could try for themselves; a floating chair suspended mid-air from Habito board; a Habito Db Station that demonstrated the board’s superior acoustic performance; and a hands-on wall where they could experience direct fixing a 42” flat screen TV or fire extinguisher. Interest was huge and the feedback received from the visitors was extremely positive.

Did you use The Big 5 2016 mainly as an opportunity to raise brand awareness, or to do business?

We did both. With so many high-profile visitors, it was a great opportunity to reinforce the strength of the Gyproc and Saint-Gobain brands to customers throughout the Middle East. More importantly, the exhibition gave us the opportunity to meet existing and new customers in a different environment that favoured discussions and opened up opportunities to extend existing partnerships. Because of the synergies between the various Saint-Gobain companies, we were also able to offer customers a wide range of solutions to meet different aspects of their project needs. Several consultants were immediately convinced by the unique properties of Habito and are now considering it as an alternative to traditional blockwork for projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait. Our specification team is already onboard and supporting them with custom solutions for these projects, which are still at the design stage, and therefore remain confidential.

What are saint-gobain gyproc’s priorities in the Middle East for the coming year?

Our priorities are to cement and grow our presence in established markets and expand into new territories, so we’ll be looking to reinforce and foster relationships with existing customers and establish new ones in all of our markets. Innovation will continue to be key, helping us to develop stronger bonds with consultants and enabling us to respond to their constantly changing needs. In 2017, we are already planning to launch a unique, new drylining system that will push the current boundaries and take acoustic performance to a new level.

Five minutes with... Khaled Amin El-Hady, Acrow Gulf

Acrow Gulf’s UAE executive manager, Khaled Amin El-Hady, discusses the importance of The Big 5 as a base for the firm to build on in the coming year

How was The Big 5 2016 for acrow gulf?

We have been designing, developing, manufacturing, and installing formwork, falsework, scaffolding, and steel structure for more than 30 years in the countries around the region. Headquartered in Egypt, we have branches in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Libya, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, and Oman.

We got positive feedback at The Big 5 last month, receiving enquiries from potential Iranian and African clients.

Which of acrow’s products and services garnered most interest during the exhibition?

Many of our innovative products garnered interest at this year’s show, with our Bridge Formwork and the ALU Deck Systems proving to be very attractive to visitors and clients during the exhibition.

What are acrow’s priorities in the Middle East for 2017?

We aim to expand in the global market, starting with increasing our penetration in the African countries, covering the southern African region specifically, and targeting new territories, including Eastern Europe. Malaysia, Cyprus, and Iran will also be target markets for our 2017 ambitions.

We are aiming to perform consistently and deliver value-added services to our clients with the highest level of quality. In the process, we hope to meet or exceed the customers’ expectations. We will strive to establish long-term collaborative partnerships with our customers above all else. Delivering formwork and scaffolding solutions with a comprehensive product line of formwork beams, shoring systems, plywood and climbing systems, we aim to continue to grow our product portfolio while developing advanced manufacturing capabilities.

Steely resolve... Emirates Steel participates in the big 5 2016

Emirates Steel, owned by Senaat, is the only integrated steel plant in the UAE. The firm showcased its range for the sixth consecutive year at The Big 5 2016

Senaat-owned Emirates Steel, the only integrated steel plant in the UAE, participated in The Big 5 for the sixth consecutive time in 2016.

The company was among the key participants in the region’s largest construction forum, showcasing its steel product range for use in the construction sector, which includes rebar, rebar in coil, wire rod, heavy sections, and sheet piles. The firm also demonstrated its efforts to transform into total steel solutions provider with further focus on high-value steel products and improved service quality. Its initiatives related to environment-friendliness and safety for workers were also highlighted.

HE Saeed Ghumran Al Remeithi, CEO of Emirates Steel, said: “The UAE construction market continues to be one of the most vibrant in the GCC. Post 2008 financial crisis, the market has slowly returned to be a vibrant, yet controlled and calibrated, while housing the best contractors and fabricators from the region and globally, and utilising high technology methods and materials.”

He added: “On the other hand, spending on construction and infrastructure projects in the UAE, in the past few years has resulted in an increase in the country’s steel production capacity, with 5.3 million tonnes of rebar capacity installed, 1.2 million tonnes of section capacity, and 1.1 million tonnes of wire rod capacity.”

Emirates Steel’s current product range includes value-added strong steel solutions with higher tensile strength, and steel with special mechanical properties so a that lesser quantity is required by customers. The range also includes straight length reinforcing bar (rebar); rebar in coil; wire rod; hot rolled structural steel sections including beams, columns, channels; and sheet piles.

The company portfolio includes major projects in the region, such as Emirates Palace Hotel, the Palm Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina, among others.

In addition, Emirates Steel has been supplying high-value steel products used in nuclear plants, for the first nuclear energy programme for power generation in the UAE, and has also introduced a number of additional grades of wire-rod with diverse chemical compositions and physical properties, offering flexibility to cater to different applications.

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