29 November 2016

Dubai Big 5 leads the sector but wifi costs are off the mark

The Big 5 is undoubtedly the major construction exhibition for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and we have just returned to the UK from the 2016 event. Balmoral Tanks is a long-time exhibitor at the Dubai-based exhibition and we have seen it reflect the highs and lows of the sector and the region over the years.

There is always a palpable buzz around the event: high ranking members of the UAE Royal family and officials gather on the first day to open the event, bringing with them attendant security and traffic challenges, while international visitors jostle for position on the show floor hoping for an official visit and an unofficial photo opportunity.

While the region is experiencing some financial constraints, caused by the ongoing oil price slump, the top five projects currently active across Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are worth some US$216 billion! And that’s just the top five.

With Expo 2020 and the 2022 Qatar World Cup looming there are big prizes on offer and this potential attracts exhibitors from around the globe. Although the show floor seemed to be quieter this year the concourses were thronged with visitors availing themselves of the myriad outlets, restaurants and coffee shops that have become an integral part of the Dubai World Trade Centre.

It was pleasing to meet some old friends and make a number of new contacts. However, this remains a highly challenging and very expensive region to do business where it would appear that the bottom line is the over-riding priority.

We noticed that many companies were offering low cost products, complete with product warranties, but have to question if some of these businesses will be around in five to ten years’ time when any such guarantee might need to be honoured? It is the age-old challenge of long term investment over short-term gain.

Despite efforts to differentiate between a well-designed, well-made tank and what might be termed a low-grade product, water storage tanks are seen as low-tech items that perform a rather fundamental role.

However, let’s not forget that the humble water tank stores and protects the world’s most valuable commodity. That’s why we advocate the specification of a well designed, manufactured and installed product that will deliver on its promises.


Wifi charges – in this day and age?

In conclusion, DMG, the show organisers, provide a well-run event but what is it with charging exhibitors AED500 per device for wifi? The very high costs involved for international exhibitors at the Big 5 should surely include the cost of this now-essential working tool? It shouldn’t be forgotten that exhibitors are trying to keep on top of their day jobs while out of the office attending the event.

I’m sure that DMG would say that this service, amongst others, is provided by DWTC but surely it is within their power to negotiate exhibitor wifi into the deal with the host venue? Perhaps a set number of users per square metre of exhibition space purchased might offer a starting point for discussion?

Of course, many hotels recognised the error of their ways when they tried to charge for wifi access. Customers simply went elsewhere and complimentary wifi is now the norm across all major hotel brands.

It’s time to get your heads together @DMG_EVENTS and @DWTC_official.


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