By Zoe Naylor
With 2,500 exhibitors from over 50 countries, Zoe Naylor introduces the largest construction industry show in the region.
Few construction markets capture the world’s attention in the way that the Gulf region’s does – it is a seemingly unstoppable machine attracting individuals and companies from every corner of the globe, all eager for a slice of the action.
The result is that this year’s Big 5 exhibition is set to be bigger and better than last year, attracting more exhibitors and visitors from countries even further afield.
For five days in October and November, Dubai will be home to what is now by far the biggest trade show in the Middle East and the region’s most comprehensive showcase of construction products and services.
“The size of the show within the Middle Eastern market is huge,” says Bernard Walsh, managing director, dmg world media Dubai, organisers of the Big 5.
“But perhaps more importantly is the fact that it has a worldwide reputation – the Gulf’s construction industry is now internationally appreciated as one of the busiest markets in the world.
“As a result, the Big 5 is known to be the shop window for the industry in the Middle East.
Almost everywhere you go in the world, the Big 5 is known and respected as the event to come to if you want to hit the Middle East market,” he adds.And hitting the Middle East market is exactly what Big 5 exhibitors are hoping to do again this year.
Sustained growth in the commercial and residential sector across the region means everybody wants a piece of the action, prompting a massive demand for space at this year’s show.
“With more and more projects making their way from the drawing board to the construction phase, the Middle East offers unparalled opportunities for all types of construction-related firms,” says Walsh.
Construction of the first phase of the City of Arabia, one of the leading private sector projects in the Middle East, is underway in Dubai.
Reclamation work has just begun on Dubai Waterfront, which when completed will be bigger than Manhattan and Beirut.
Phase one of the project was reportedly sold out for approximately US $3.5 billion (AED13 billion) in just five days.
Other mega residential and tourism projects such as the Al Raha Beach and Between the Bridges developments in Abu Dhabi, The Wave in Muscat, Oman, the three Palms and The World in Dubai, and the Pearl-Qatar in Doha, all mean a steady flow of contracts for the construction industry.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia is forging ahead with its $26 billion King Abdullah Economic City, and in Kuwait plans have been mooted for a 1km-tall tower in the north of the country – which if built would eclipse even the Burj Dubai.
The increasing number of tourists visiting the region has prompted a dramatic surge in the number of new airport projects underway.
Construction of New Doha International Airport and Dubai World Central at Jebel Ali, along with the expansion of existing facilities at both Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Airports, is good news for the local – and international – construction sector.
“What is really significant, and will create even greater opportunity for companies involved in the building and construction sector, is the decision taken by Dubai Municipality which will allow international contractors without local contacts to bid for major projects,” says Walsh.
This means that construction giants from countries such as Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey and Japan are among those targeting (and winning) lucrative Dubai contracts.
“This is a major strategic shift and one that will have a massive effect on the continued growth and expansion of the industry,” adds Walsh.
And this becomes apparent when one considers the vast range of companies set to exhibit at this year’s Big 5.
From plant equipment right through to air-conditioning units and ceramic tiles, exhibitors from Europe, Australasia, The Near and Far East and the Indian subcontinent, will descend of this year’s show.
One of the exhibition halls will almost entirely be full of German participants and will be one of the biggest official groups ever to have left Germany for any show anywhere in the world.
A total of 2,500 exhibitors are expected from 56 counties, with around 43,000 trade professionals due to attend the show.
Countries exhibiting for the first time include the Philippines and Vietnam.
All are attracted by one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-paced construction industries, which shows no sign of slowing down.
“There doesn’t seem to be any limit to the growth of the sector in the Middle East,” concludes Walsh.
“Every time we think we’ve seen the biggest ever project announcement, something comes along the next day which is even bigger and even more ambitious.”
“The Big 5 is known to be the shop window for the industry in the Middle East. Almost everywhere you go