Reviewing GCC fire safety equipment's prospects

Led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s fire safety equipment sector will expand in the next five years

Growth detected: Analysts are optimistic about growth in the region’s fire safety sector.
Growth detected: Analysts are optimistic about growth in the region’s fire safety sector.

It is safe to assume that, regardless of market conditions, demand for high-quality fire detection and prevention product will sustain in property sectors around the world. After all, even the highest standards of design, construction, operation, and maintenance cannot alleviate the human element of fire risk.

It is here that the need for fire detection products – sensors, alarms, sprinklers, and even conventional detectors – can truly be contextualised. The fire that engulfed Dubai’s 75-storey Sulafa Tower in July 2016 was discovered to have started due to a discarded cigarette butt, local daily The National reported, citing the building’s management team. The city’s Tamweel Tower, which was gutted by a fire in November 2012, was also believed to have started after a pile of rubbish lying outside the building was ignited by a cigarette butt.

More recently, a fire that destroyed numerous homes in the Ajman One tower last March started due to coal used for shisha, the buildings’ developer told Gulf News. Coal used to light shisha was thrown in construction waste, according to the daily’s report.

Of course, this isn’t to imply that all fires are caused by human error, as is evidenced by cases where short circuits or extreme heat caused blazes to break out. Regardless, detection and prevention systems are a deciding factor in the extent of damage that the fire causes.

It is on the back of this understanding that the fire equipment is growing in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE being the largest markets for suppression and detection products.

A report by Frost & Sullivan, publicised in October 2015, stated that the GCC’s fire safety market is expected to grow at an average 15% to touch $3.15bn by 2020.

The report added: “Fuelled by a residential construction boom, Saudi Arabia currently holds a 46% share ($644m) of the Gulf’s $1.4bn fire safety market, while the UAE, with a 34% share ($476m) is also ramping up demand with the help of developments planned for the Dubai Expo 2020.”

These numbers have expanded over the last 15 months, as the UAE Fire Safety Systems and Equipment Market 2015-2021 report by 6Wresearch goes to show. According to the study, the Emirates’ sector is projected to be worth almost $669m by 2021.

Hospitality, healthcare, transportation, and industrial developments are expected to spur the equipment market’s growth in the next four years, with commercial and residential properties accounting for the highest revenue share at present.

The report adds: “In the overall fire safety systems and equipment market, the protection segment recorded the majority of the revenues, whereas the suppression systems sub-segment held a majority of the revenue share. Within the detection systems and equipment segment, the smoke detectors sub-segment accounted for the highest share, followed by heat detectors.”

Abu Dhabi is the largest market for fire safety equipment demand from the residential sector, according to the study. The UAE’s northern region, which in the study includes Ras Al Khaimah, Umm al-Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Dubai, “captured a majority of the revenue share in UAE’s fire safety systems and equipment market”.

The report adds: “In the overall UAE fire safety systems and equipment market, detection systems and equipment sales dominate fire protection, which includes smoke and heat detectors followed by fire extinguishers. Dubai Expo 2020 could proliferate the demand for fire safety systems and equipment owing to major construction projects [through to 2021].”

For manufacturers and suppliers of fire safety equipment, the future is bright – not only in the Middle East, but across the world too, especially if oil and gas markets hint at a recovery this year. According to the Transparency Market Research’s Fire Protections Systems Market – 2015-2023 report, “the opportunity in the global fire protection market was worth $5.08bn in 2014 and is anticipated to reach $8.93bn by 2023, as the market paces ahead at a 6.48% CAGR” between both years.

The uptake of local legislation, combined with technological advancements in fire safety systems, has led to better fire detection and prevention in the region over the years. With technology concepts such as big data and Internet of Things (IoT) finding more takers in the UAE, fire detection systems will likely get smarter in the years to come. For product manufacturers, FM professionals, building owners, and end-users alike, that can only be a good thing.

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