It’s hard to dispute that Dubai is the ideal city to host the annual Big 5 International Building and Construction show which took place from 26th – 29th November. Recognised as the largest construction event in the Middle East the show welcomes up to 80,000 delegates and 2,500 exhibitors across 64 countries for four days each November, taking up all 110,000 sqm of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). The scope and statistics for the show are impressive on many levels.
Much like Dubai itself The Big 5 has expanded rapidly over the years into a world-class international event, which incorporates five shows in one. The DWTC exhibition halls are arranged into sectors focusing on Construction Technology & Innovation, MEP services, Building Interiors & Finishes, Building Envelope & Special Construction and Construction Tools & Materials.
The Big 5 Dubai 2018: An Impressive Global Showcase
The 2018 show floor represented stands from an impressive range of suppliers and countries, all with the shared objective to connect international suppliers of construction products and services with buyers from the region. A comprehensive series of keynotes, workshops and one-day summits provided relevant content for all delegates to support them with their business requirements and ensure they had a packed schedule across the four days of the show.
One session, “Women in Construction”, tackled the topic of gender diversity in the sector. The full-day event included a contribution from powerful and successful women, from the region, who are driving change and helping to shape the future of the construction industry. Through panel talks and keynote presentations, they shared their experiences about sustainability, technology, empowerment and diversity and inclusion.
“The FutureTech Construction Summit” focused on the opportunities, benefits, key drivers and challenges that technological advancements and innovation deliver. Through a mix of case studies, interactive panel discussions and thought-provoking presentations this session offered construction industry professionals guidance to adopt technology and help achieve higher productivity, greater sustainability and enhanced affordability in their projects.
“How to do Business in the UAE” seminar provided valuable information to support overseas companies working in the region. Attendees received important guidance on setting up a business and winning work in the region’s booming construction market, with insight on laws and effective business practices in the UAE.
Despite the extensive schedule of sessions, there was a steady buzz of visitors on the show floor each day as delegates navigated through the halls to visit the booths. As exhibitors, the PlanGrid team was kept busy, and holding hundreds of great conversations and delivering plenty of demos of our cloud productivity software over the four days of the show. There was strong recognition of our local customer, Sobha Hartland, through the case study available on the stand and the recent news of the Autodesk acquisition of PlanGrid was welcomed by delegates. Also, not forgetting the large quantity of PlanGrid branded pens, stress cones and key rings the team handed out during the show!
Building a Vision for the Future in Dubai
One of the advantages of attending The Big 5 Dubai was getting the opportunity to spend time in the city and explore the area for a few days. The city was preparing to celebrate the 47th year of the UAE on 2nd December, with flags and light displays illuminating the buildings and elaborate flower beds in full bloom to welcome the holiday weekend.
Dubai has come a long way since 1971 when the foresight and vision of the ruler Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum set about transforming a fishing village into a hub for finance, trade and tourism in the region. The city is a showcase for construction with an impressive range of innovative buildings, including the famous, the Burj Khalifa. Stretching 829.8 metres (2,722 ft) into the sky the tower is not only the tallest building on earth but the tallest structure ever produced, truly a staggering feat of engineering.
The DWTC was developed when the UAE was in its infancy and has expanded and modernised as the city has grown. The wonderfully named Happiness Street links the centre to the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) with the area boasting impressive buildings such as The Emirates Tower, and construction projects like The Museum of the Future, an inspiring torus, or eye-shaped, building which appears to defy gravity as it takes shape.
The project team has incorporated the latest construction technology and borrowed techniques from the aviation industry to design and build the Museum. Arabic calligraphy on the exterior adds to the beauty of the structure, which will be an incubator for futuristic innovations and design when it opens its doors in 2019.
Nearby stands the “Office of the Future,” the first 3D-printed inhabited structure of its kind in the world. The office forms part of Dubai’s 3D printing strategy which will manipulate the technology to target real estate and construction, medical, and consumer sectors, under Dubai government’s commitment to the use of 3D printing technologies for a quarter of its buildings by 2030.
Construction sites are in evidence right across the city. Dubai welcomes the world to Expo 2020 in less than two years, and significant progress has been made on this megaproject. This is the first Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and offers a valuable platform to showcase the region and highlight their impressive construction capabilities.
Estimates suggest that Dubai currently employs 1,100 cranes, or about 1% of the world’s crane population, and looking at how they share the city skyline with the many skyscrapers it’s easy to see how this figure adds up. The push for innovation, use of technology and the drive to expand their world-class city will no doubt continue to keep Dubai at the forefront of the construction sector for many years.