Initial reaction – Big 5 Dubai 2012

Greater focus on quality and sustainability this time around

Big 5 2012 looks to have impressed suppliers and manufacturers. (Image: Gavin Davids)

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The first day of the 2012 edition of Big 5 closed on Monday and if initial impressions are to be trusted, then this year looks to be the biggest in the exhibition’s 30 year history.

With 2,500 exhibitors from 70 countries, the show appears to be dominated by companies from China, Italy and Turkey, who look to have the largest country pavilions set up in the cavernous World Trade Centre halls.

Even the United Kingdom has gotten into the act, having sent over their largest trade presence in years, so much so that Prime Minister David Cameron, in town on a state visit, was moved to thank them for supporting British exports, whatever that means.

Going by the numbers, it would be easy to assume that everyone’s here to grab a slice of the resurgent GCC construction market; that the good days are back again. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find that companies and suppliers are displaying far more awareness and caution about the market than in years previously.

If 2010 and 2011 were about testing the waters and seeing if the market was ready for a comeback, this year’s edition is about making sure that the market gets the levels of quality that it demands. There’s awareness now that the regional GCC market wants and demands the best from its suppliers.

As Stefano Iannacone, managing director of IBS-MAPEI, told me during an interview, ‘it’s about quality now, and people don’t want to make the mistake of saving a few hundred thousand dollars and then spend millions redoing a project because the quality has let them down.’

Indicative of this, there’s a great focus on the quality on offer at Big 5 this year, and it’s showing, with a number of traders conducting deals and doing business on the first day itself, a most unusual sight for seasoned Big 5 observers.

Not only has the exhibitor list swelled, but seminars and workshops have also grown exponentially, with the four day scheduled packed with free-to-attend lectures and panel discussions covering everything from precast to sustainability.

Organisers have made it a point for sustainability to underpin a number of workshops and seminars this year, with Andy White, event director for Big 5 2012, explaining that he wanted to put education at the forefront of all events.

“It’s a topic that is an inherent part of all sectors of the building and construction industry, and one that each event will address specifically within its own context,” he said.

So if you’re a GCC contractor looking for quality and attention to detail, then perhaps this year’s Big 5 could be the one for you. You could find yourself pleasantly surprised.



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