The Big 5 Saudi this year shows the kingdom’s resilience in continuing on its growth trajectory, in the face of economic pressures.
Ever since its launch in 2011, The Big 5 Saudi has been a success year after year. Now, in its sixth year, it has established itself as an ideal platform for exhibitors and buyers seeking a share of the kingdom’s lucrative construction industry; one that remains secure, despite regional economic pressures, say the organisers of the show. The event is set to open next month (March 7 to 10) at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events in Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital located on the Red Sea coast.
This year, the organisers Mice Arabia Exhibitions and Conferences and dmg events (co-organiser) expect 600 exhibitors, with around 400 coming from outside Saudi Arabia. “There are likely to be 17 national pavilions and a floor space of 20,000 sq m has been allocated for this very reason,” says a spokesman for the organisers.
“As interest in Saudi Arabia increases, we see more and more international exhibitors coming from around the world with an interest to conduct business in Saudi Arabia. Our international exhibitors have been some of our most satisfied customers and we look forward to welcoming them back this year.
“Those visiting The Big 5 Saudi this year will not only be the first to see the latest international products, but will also have access to more than 7,500 products showcased by 600 exhibitors,” he says.
Last year’s event attracted the participation of 546 exhibitors over 11,848 sq m of exhibition space and drew 12,361 unique visitors.
Commenting on The Big 5 event, he says: “The growing interest in Saudi Arabia has positively impacted the construction industry in the region, providing lucrative growth opportunities across the sector. And The Big 5 Saudi has provided an ideal platform for exhibitors and buyers looking to gain a share of the kingdom’s lucrative $732-billion construction industry.”
The spokesman says the event has over the years built an extensive exhibitor portfolio, which is evident in the overwhelming response received for the 2016 edition.
The Big 5 Saudi provides a window into the construction market of the kingdom, which is a key economic driver. “Not only does it provide a platform for almost every industry, it also contributes to the employment of Saudi nationals and offers growth potential to local businesses,” he points out.
Citing a report by Meed Projects, he says the value of project contracts awarded in the GCC is expected to drop by 15 per cent due to low oil prices. However, Saudi Arabia is well placed to weather the storm.
“According to Deloitte’s 2015 GCC Powers of Construction report, Saudi Arabia is experiencing a construction boom, despite current economic pressures in the kingdom and the region, with $1.2 trillion (42 per cent) of the region’s total $2.8 billion projects either planned or under way,” he says.
One of Saudi Arabia’s largest projects is the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which began construction in 2007. It is expected that more than $100 billion will be spent over the course of the 18-year project that spans an area of 55 million sq m.
“It is expected that some projects that have not yet started construction may be delayed or contracts withheld, but given the importance of the construction sector in Saudi Arabia, it will continue to play a crucial role,” says the spokesman.
He indicates that Saudi Arabia has seen a continuation in the development and implementation of plans and projects, attributing this largely to the lower manufacturing and logistic costs for most building materials, particularly petroleum-based building materials like asphalt, roofing materials, insulation, plastic materials, steel and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) piping. “The impact will also be seen across the transporting and logistics industry, with costs of transporting goods and services dropping significantly. This is because surcharges imposed (when the cost of oil peaked several years ago) are set to be eased, as gasoline prices hit a five-year low,” he states.
Generally, one of the first things to go when economic pressures hit is sustainability, however Saudi Arabia is bucking the trend.
“As Saudi Arabia continues its journey towards becoming a sustainable nation, ‘sustainability’ remains a key area for us to focus on. The demand for sustainable developments has dramatically increased, in turn leading to a greater need for education and training in the subject.
“As regulating agencies in Saudi Arabia lean further towards sustainable products, Leed (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is becoming increasingly essential to companies. Demand for high-quality, environmentally sustainable products and breakthrough technologies has increased over the last few years. To meet this demand, The Big 5 Saudi provides companies from across the globe with the opportunity to showcase sustainable products, some of which are not yet available in Saudi Arabia,” the spokesman says.
The show, he continues, is an ideal platform for construction companies to showcase new products as the event provides direct access to end-users. “We have seen several product launches over the years and we anticipate there will be many more this year,” he says.
But exhibits are not the only highlights of the show, he says. “Bringing together leaders of the industry from across the region, we use this opportunity to provide participants with the opportunity to upskill and participate in seminars and educational workshops.”
He adds: “We have an impressive line-up of speakers at this year’s event including Ayman Hussain (founder, Egyptian Green Movement), Mohammad Al Aboudi (project engineer, Saudi Basic industries Corporation – Sabic), Mario Seneviratne (managing director, Green Technologies), and Jamil Ghaznawi (national director, Jones Lang LaSalle), amongst others.”
The seminars cover areas such as quality management, introduction to Fidic (International Federation of Consulting Engineers; Fédération Internationale Des Ingénieurs-Conseils), and the latest trends in sustainable design. This year, the organisers have not only included 27 CPD (continuing professional development)-certified workshops, but also a series on ‘Vision in Construction’.
“With an estimated $200-billion spend in construction planned over the next two years and much more in the pipeline, Saudi Arabia is likely to remain the dominant construction market in the GCC for the foreseeable future. Anyone – exhibitor or visitor – participating at The Big 5 Saudi 2016 and looking to invest in the market is likely to enjoy an impressive return on their investment,” he concludes.