Sheikh Hamdan and UAE officials tour the show on the opening day.

Sheikh Hamdan and UAE officials tour the show on the opening day.

Smart, green products in focus at top show

December 2018

SMART products, digitisation, sustainability, solar power, technological disruptions and innovation were in the spotlight at  The Big 5 2018 which was  held in Dubai, UAE, last month.

The 39th edition of Middle East’s leading international building and construction show saw 2,500 global exhibiting companies and more than 30 country pavilions displaying the latest building solutions and innovative products.

Officially inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the UAE’s Minister of Finance and Industry, the show ran from November 26 to 29 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

This year, five exhibitions were co-located with The Big 5: HVAC R Expo – a new event dedicated to the HVAC R industry; The Big 5 Solar – bringing solar solutions for construction; the Urban Design & Landscaping Expo (UDLE) – the region’s only event focused on landscaping, infrastructure and urban development; The Big 5 Heavy – the leading event dedicated to infrastructure and heavy construction in the Middle East; and Middle East Concrete(MEC) – the region’s largest event dedicated to concrete.

The Big 5 also featured high-level summits and more than 100 workshops, creating one mega event for the entire construction lifecycle.

This year’s event introduced two new features that aim to advance the construction sector by embracing innovation and technology: the brand new Live Innovation Zone and The Big 5’s Start-Up City, presenting the next construction tech disruptors.

A total of 14 start-ups from around the globe competed for the coveted $25,000 prize money offered in the Start-up City contest.

WakeCap, the IoT-based enterprise solution aimed at improving safety and productivity at the construction site, was declared winner by a panel of experts.

WakeCap enables real-time field reporting via integrated sensors into the existing personal safety equipment and connecting job-sites via wireless mesh network technology.

Industry pioneers, meanwhile, gathered at the high-profile Global Solar Leaders’ Summit to highlight the growing importance of solar solutions in the urban sector. The summit was part of The Big 5 Solar, now in its fourth year.

Among the many high-profile speakers at the event included Ali Mohammed Al Jassim, CEO Etihad Esco; Yousif Al Ali, director, business development, Masdar Clean Energy; Faisil Rashid, director – Demand Side Management, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy; Rajit Nanda, chief investment officer, Acwa Power; and Ivano Ianelli, CEO, Dubai Carbon, Centre of Excellence.

In his opening remarks, Chris Kilbee, senior vice-president at dmg events, said: “Much of the energy consumption in the region is driven by urban spaces: The residential sector is responsible for the consumption of almost 47 per cent of the GCC’s total energy, against a global average of 25 per cent.

“If we consider that there are more than 23,000 active construction projects in the GCC right now, we understand that it is extremely important for the solar and the construction industries to join forces, address current challenges and harness the immense opportunities that lie ahead.”

In his keynote address, Al Jassim said: “Today, we are leading the region in energy efficiency. We saved Dubai Dh40 million ($11 million) in 2016-17 through retrofitting and our success story has made an echo around the globe. We have a plan and target to retrofit 30,000 buildings – a target of 2,000 per year. No other city has put such a challenging target but we have a path, a goal, a plan. The target is 30 per cent by 2030; it’s just a matter of time.”

To celebrate achievements towards a more sustainable and efficient urban footprint through solar solutions, dmg events presented two awards at the summit. The Global Green Ambassador Award went to Obaid Amrane, member of the management board, Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen); and the Global Solar Leaders’ Award was given to Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, CEO, Masdar.

Real-life stories, best practices and challenges overcome by top women in the industry were also in focus at this year’s Big 5, which saw the launch of the first Women in Construction Seminar and Awards. Organised in association with Mott MacDonald, the seminar addressed the challenges that women face in terms of equal opportunities in construction, a traditionally male-dominated sector.

A panel of experts awarded Jovana Lukac, structural engineer at Robert Bird Group; and Suheir Islam, geotechnical engineer at SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins, as Next-Generation Woman of the Year 2018. Suad Khawaja, Dubai area manager at Parsons, was awarded Woman in Leadership of the Year, in light of her outstanding achievements and leadership skills and positive impact on the industry.  

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