The Big 5 in Dubai: Preview of Middle East’s largest construction show

Trade event to be held from November 23-26 at the Dubai World Trade Centre

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As construction events in the Middle East and North Africa go, they don’t come much bigger than The Big 5. In anticipation of this year’s event, we explore what is in store for visitors to this year’s exhibition and how the region’s biggest construction event is preparing to redefine the regional industry.

The number of large-scale developments in the GCC region is increasing, with a recent list of the top 30 projects alone valued at over $340 billion. With such high stakes and long construction timeframes, being able to rely on trusted suppliers capable of responding to planned and unforeseeable deviations in construction is essential in sustaining growth.

With more than 2,000 plants engaged in the production of building materials, accounting for 17% of small and medium-sized factories in UAE, opportunities are also emerging for suppliers to secure contracts. As GCC countries increasingly turn to green building materials, amid a need to comply with green building codes and sustainable development plans, the market for marble, stone and ceramics is expected to rise from $5.1 billion in 2014 to an estimated $5.4 billion in 2015. Glass is another material set for tremendous growth.

Concrete production from recycled materials, such as ash from power furnaces and wood from proven, sustainable forests, is booming, as are water-efficient plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient lighting fixtures, both of which are expected to experience growth.

In this context, this year’s The Big 5, which will be held 23-26 November 2015 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, is shaping up to be one of the most engaging opportunities for professionals to connect with the region’s construction sector in new and exciting ways. As in previous years, visitors will have guaranteed access to a comprehensive programme of free CPD workshops and seminars, each led by an industry specialist who will share relevant cutting-edge insights.

Among the highlights will be an update on Dubai Municipality Green Building Regulations and, with total registered and certified leasable LEED space in the country reaching 47 million gross sqm, there will also be a session on updated energy modelling strategies for LEED v4. There will also be a seminar on how to trade in the UAE for exhibitors looking to grow their presence or set up operations in the region. This will offer information on navigating the complex regulatory framework to set up a business and win work in the region’s booming construction markets, as well as provide key insights into local laws and effective business practices in the UAE.

Freezones will also be a central feature of this seminar, on account of the role they have played in promoting the growth of the non-oil economies in the UAE. Trade through freezones increased 7% year-on-year in the first half of 2014 to $73 billion, while imports through freezones also expanded by 10% to $41 billion. In addition, direct exports and re-exports from freezones have increased 5%, to around $3 billion and $28.8 billion respectively.

Other workshops at The Big 5 will focus on this market potential and business development, as well as improving supply chain competitiveness, managing cultural diversity and ethical issues, fire safety, the complexities of designing healthcare facilities, and an introduction to smart cities and the Internet of Things – among other things. All are essential in providing learning opportunities that help visitors maintain pace with booming GCC construction markets.

This will be increasingly important, given that a shortage in labour is one of the biggest challenges facing the Middle East construction industry. In addition to technical skills, demand for soft skills across the region is in some cases more important among selective employers.

“The implications of skills shortages in the GCC are such that project delays and avoidable costs could become a real possibility,” says Andy White, vice president of dmg events Middle East and Africa. “However, when you consider that some skills shortages are emerging amid a renewed confidence in construction, economic growth, rising populations and a revival of projects put on hold during the global economic recession, employment trends are actually extremely positive.”

In an effort to better align local, regional and global suppliers with the specific needs of local markets, The Big 5 will feature a plethora of live product demonstrations of technologies and innovations that are shaping the construction industry. In a similar fashion to the workshops and seminars, participating exhibitors will bring experts to showcase products in action, giving all visitors the opportunity to assess the suitability of a product for their projects in real time.

Meanwhile, a series of green initiatives, including the Gaia Awards, will be held during the event. Launched in 2008 to honour companies in construction whose products and services have demonstrated a reduction in the impact on the environment, Gaia has grown into the industry’s most respected awards, with winners eligible to receive $50,000 in marketing support, in order to showcase the winning product to market. The awards are open to exhibitors and non-exhibitors whose products are distributed within MENA.

Another popular feature at The Big 5 is the Design Summit, which will be held on the second day of the show in 2015. The summit brings together leading architects, consultants, urban planners, engineers and contractors and is the only conference in the region to offer comprehensive free insights into the latest design trends, technologies and techniques such as sustainability and costefficiency, while also providing an unparalleled analysis of local and regional GCC markets.

With 3,000 exhibitors and 85,000 visitors expected to descend on Dubai World Trade Centre when The Big 5 opens its doors, the event is bracing for another record-breaking year after the 2014 event broke all attendance records in the show’s 35-year history. Available floor space is also set for an 8% increase, from 52,265sqm in 2014 to 56,400sqm in 2015, following the expansion of Dubai World Trade Centre and strong demand from exhibitors.

With strong demand, extra floor space will also be used to accommodate a new hall called The Big 5 Focus, which will be making its debut at the 2015 event. As the latest addition, The Big 5 Focus has been created to serve the increasing number of visitors seeking information on the challenges and opportunities for technology in construction and project management.

In speaking about The Big 5 Focus, dmg event director Ashley Roberts explains the rationale behind the new hall and that The Big 5 Focus will offer more stand space for companies wishing to increase their presence at the event.

“The 2014 edition of The Big 5 was a record-breaking year, which was attended by 80,178 participants. To continue with the expansion and development of The Big 5, Focus is a hall dedicated to a range of features that have been introduced specifically to meet the needs of our visitors, providing additional value.”

With this in mind, we’ve put together a snapshot of the not-to-be-missed CPD workshops and seminars at The Big 5:

1. Updates to Dubai Municipality’s green building regulations

2. GCC construction sector update: Market potential and business development opportunities

3. Introduction to smart cities and the Internet of Things

4. Updated energy modelling strategies for LEED v4

5. How to trade in the UAE

6. Can sustainable and affordable housing become a reality in the Middle East?

7. A cost-benefit analysis of energy-efficient technologies

8. Improving supply chain competitiveness

9. Fire safety in facades

10. Managing a culturally diverse team to optimise organisational performance

11. Construction contract management and ethical issues

12. Navigating the complexities of designing healthcare facilities

13. Life cycle cost assessment (LCA) of green buildings

14. Life cycle costing: Theory vs practice in the GCC region

15. Introduction to the UN Global Compact Principles: Sustainability and ethicality in real estate and construction.

For the full agenda and complete information about the free workshops and industry speakers taking part at The Big 5, please visit this page.

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