The Big 5 2017 is grounded in reality, but looking to the future

The Big 5 2017 is grounded in reality, but looking to the future
James Morgan is editor of Construction Week.
Published: 26 November 2017 - 1:31 a.m.
By: James Morgan

For almost four decades, The Big 5 has acted as a regional springboard for the latest construction-related tools, techniques, and materials.

Year in, year out, the exhibition offers a high-profile platform for industry innovators wishing to present their wares to the Middle East’s construction community at large.

With this in mind, my saying that The Big 5 2017 possesses a distinctly forward-looking flavour should come as no surprise. Presenting a vision of how our sector could and should evolve is, in large part, the show’s raison d’etre.

But the innovations on display at this year’s exhibition – not to mention the way in which the event has been subdivided – appear subtly different from those showcased during recent iterations. While undoubtedly visionary in nature, The Big 5 2017’s major themes and focusses are grounded in the market realities of today. This is not futurism for futurism’s sake.

For evidence of this characteristic, you need look no further than the satellite events that are taking place around the core exhibition. The agendas of The Big 5 Talks, the Excellence in Construction Summit, The Big 5 Innovation in Precast Summit, and The Big 5 Solar are chock-full of representatives from government bodies and companies that are generating novel responses to the challenges currently being faced on the front line of GCC construction.

VIP speakers at this year’s satellite events include HE Dr Abdullah Belhaif AlNuaimi, UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development, who will extoll the virtues of precast concrete technology; Ahmed Al Khatib, vice president of real estate and delivery at Expo 2020 Dubai, who will outline how the universal exposition is benefitting local and international construction outfits, both large and small; Bibop G Gresta, chairman and co-founder of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (Hyperloop TT), who will explore the feasibility of ultra high-speed transportation in the Emirates; and Chris Kelsey, chief executive officer of Cazza, the company planning to develop the world’s first 3D-printed skyscraper in Dubai within the next five years.

Focusses such as precast concrete, solar energy, 3D-printing technology, and novel methods of transportation are certainly forward-looking, but they also represent genuine opportunities for Gulf-based construction outfits looking to secure fresh business and long-term prosperity. Moreover, the educational elements of this year’s conferences, coupled with practical examples of how the latest tools and techniques are already being employed in the region, offer tangible benefits related to efficiency and delivery.

As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Encouragingly, The Big 5 2017 looks set to be even more inventive than usual.

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