Intersec, the second largest show of its kind in the world, came to Dubai last month.SFSreports on the news, updates and the state of the industry.
After all the fears that have been played out in the media over the last few months, Intersec provided a reassuring opportunity for those in the security, fire and safety industries.
Spread across the Dubai International Exhibition Centre, visitor numbers were up by more than 20% from last year. Messe Frankfurt estimates that over 17,000 visitors stepped through the doors to take a look at the state of the industry.
It is the duty of this conference to create a good society in every region. - Dr. Mohammed Bin Fahad, Dubai Police Academy.
Dr. Mohammed Bin Fahad, director general of Dubai Police Academy, set the agenda for the show in his keynote speech on day one. "This fair is about protecting human life," he said.
"It is the duty of this conference to create a good society in every region. This is a globalised city, we can present Dubai as an example for all globalised people."
Presenting Dubai as an example for the world held particular resonance at a time of global financial nervousness, and exhibitors and visitors maintained a cautiously optimistic mood throughout the show, which gave way to celebration by the time of its completion.
Messe Frankfurt stated deals worth multiple millions of dollars were signed at the show, and independent research by SFS indicated that the future is indeed very bright for the industry as a whole, with companies not only staying the course but even expanding throughout the region.
Smiles all round
One exhibitor that had every right to be pleased with the market was Sami El Azzami, business development manager of Bristol Fire Engineering. "A lot of people are scared to sign big contracts, but we currently have deals worth US$120 million in negotiation at this stage," he said.
He cited his company's long service record of 37 years in the region as being crucial in securing contracts. He also indicated that the current success was leading Bristol to open a new office in Saudi Arabia.
Similarly positive reports were coming from the security section of the show. "This is the best show we've ever done," said Russell Wood, divisional manager of G4S.
"We've had a lot of interest from KSA clients here, and we've generated as many sales there this month as we did in seven months last year."
The Saudi Arabian market certainly seemed to be the big news of the show. Homeland Security Research had last year announced that the KSA would have the second largest homeland security market in the world after the US and exhibitors at the show were adamant that this would provide opportunities for everyone in the industry.
Safety standards organisation Underwriters Laboratories was exhibiting with a view to expanding their Middle East presence.
"We have got strong manufacturing support in Saudi, we've got important users in Dubai, so we're trying to see what would be the best method to address this," said R A Venkitachalam, vice president and managing director, UL Emerging Markets. "That could be something in the UAE or of course, something in Saudi Arabia."Some exhibitors did suggest there were fewer visitors than they were expecting. "Maybe we have slightly less interest from end users than last year, but it's not a massive difference," said Walid Feghali, country business leader for 3M Gulf.
Conversely there were several companies from outside the region who felt that the show was ideal for raising their profile as they explore necessary new business opportunities outside of their home territories.
"We have had things going on over the years internationally but it's never been a major part of our business before. For sustainability and growth, we have to look outside of the UK. [The GCC] seems, from what I've seen so far, a massive opportunity," said Christopher Young, chief executive of First Aid International.
The GCC seems, from what I’ve seen so far, a massive opportunity. - Christopher Young, First Aid International.
More good news also came from the video surveillance market. A rough estimate suggests that nearly half of the 710 exhibitors at the show were video surveillance and related industry vendors, keen to capitalise on the opportunities created by the relative freshness of the Gulf market.
A conference speech by Alistair Hayfield from IMS Research confirmed the bright prospects in the region, with the video surveillance market estimated to grow by 30% for the next five years.
Uniformed and informed
Several exhibitors also commented on the highly technical nature of the market, saying the GCC in particular was keen on high-tech solutions. This was supported by the vast number of automated and integrated security system vendors exhibiting.
Perhaps what was surprising was a lack of exhibitors displaying the more human elements of security. Most glaring of all seemed to be an absence of any companies who provide security guard services.
Even some of the ‘big names' more commonly associated with the men in uniform were focused on automated cameras and barriers.
However, the men in uniform were in force for demonstrations of skill. The Dubai Police pavilion held a demonstration on the abilities of its K-9 Training Department.
Dogs from the K-9 unit showed how they detect explosive devices and illegal drugs hidden in envelopes, while tracking dogs tracked and tried to attack a suspect hidden inside a tent and a criminal trying to flee after the commission of a crime.
"We train these dogs when they are one and a half years of age. Depending on the abilities of a dog the training could last from four to six months. We have a total of 82 dogs at Dubai Police working on different tasks and there is a dedicated handler for each dog," explained Major Abdul Salam Mohammad Al Shamsi, from the K-9 training department of Dubai Police.
Other displays included demonstrations of fall protection equipment, ever vital in the high-rise construction world of the Gulf, and live hacking, representing the increasing IT security threat faced by the region.
Overall, the show was a good barometer of how things stand at present. There's cautious growth, with the longest-established players going from strength to strength, while newcomers to the market see great potential within the region for expansion and dedicated offices.
Intersec demonstrated that there's likely to be a shift in focus slightly to the west as the Saudi Arabian market begins to increase in dominance, but there's still plenty for everyone to work on elsewhere in the Gulf.
The industry holds a lot of promise and potential for 2009, and if these can be delivered, the future is very bright indeed.For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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