DesignMENA reveals an insider’s guide to Big 5

With more than 2,750 international exhibitors planning to come to the GCC and showcase their work, The Big 5’s 2014 edition is looking forward to a massive show. Known as the Middle East’s largest building and construction show, The Big 5 is also a fantastic platform for the region’s designers to learn about upcoming projects as well as network with thousands of the industry’s most powerful players.

The Big 5 has secured its international footprint with an exhibitor list that covers more than 60 countries and the number of visitors expected to exceed 74,000 hailing from more than 120 countries. According to a report issued by the event, The Big 5 has already seen an increase in international exhibitors driven by renewed confidence in the region’s construction sector.

With nearly all construction and design sectors on the rise from education to retail, The Big 5 is prepared to nurture the region’s big economic boom. According to a 2014 report conducted by Ventures Middle East, which was released in conjunction with The Big 5, the United Arab Emirates’ retail sector is expected to grow over 33% by 2015.

The predicted growth is cause for investment into other GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, and to a lesser extent Qatar and Bahrain, said the report.

New developments in the retail sector are quite well known such as the Mall of the World entertainment and hotel project, which will consist of the world’s largest mall, spread across eight million square metres, at an estimated cost of $6.8bn.

According to the report, George Kostas, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Properties notes: “We expect an even greater investment in the retail and tourism sector in the lead-up to the Expo 2020.”

He adds: “A rise in consumer purchasing power and a growing young and brand savvy population have made Dubai one of the world’s most attractive hubs for retailers.”

Other projects in the pipeline include the Vendome Mall at Lusail in Qatar, the planned Al Diriyah Festival City in Saudi Arabia and the planned Muscat Festival City Mall in Oman.

Andy White, group event director, The Big 5, says: “Leading retailers from around the world are all clamouring to enter a GCC market which has huge potential, and that’s only good news for developers in the region.

“We are seeing increased activity across the entire GCC as countries continue to position themselves as destinations for major tourism events. Increasingly, visitors to The Big 5 are sourcing products for retail
projects and we continue to develop our event to help professionals take advantage of this exciting opportunity.”

In addition to the retail industry, the region’s education design sector is also seeing growth. Another report by Ventures ME explained the huge investment being made across the region in school, college and university build and design.

GCC governments are looking to spend more than $90bn on education-related developments by the end of 2014, says the report by Ventures ME. Additionally, it notes that the education sector is one of the biggest markets for suppliers in the region, as the population in the GCC is predicted to increase from 50.6m in 2014 to 55.8m by 2018 and the total number of students is expected to grow from 11.1m to 11.6m by 2016.

White explains: “There are huge business opportunities for suppliers who understand the education sector. The GCC has a young demographic and governments are investing heavily in education.”

White added that The Big 5 plans to provide insight into the education sector by means of its conference and workshop programme. He says: “The Big 5 workshops during the show will examine the huge refurbishment market in the region and look at the technology expected in the 21st century school buildings.”

The Big 5 looks to nurture the many various sectors in the market and this year seems to boast an impressive focus on going green and sustainability in the region.

As with every year, The Big 5 2014 will host the Gaia Awards again, which looks to acknowledge and reward those who’ve made impressive efforts toward building a greener tomorrow in the region. In addition to the awards, a seminar on green building regulations held by the Dubai Municipality will provide an overview of Dubai’s initiatives toward sustainability.

Engi Jaber, architect and sustainability programme specialist, Dewan Architects & Engineers, plans to speak at the Sustainable Design & Construction Conference. Of the region’s growing propensity for sustainable building, she says: “The good thing is the market started off with very little that was green, but now we find that we can actually get more from within the region, rather than importing it, which saves costs and time. We are actually at the stage where we can do green buildings with a conventional budget.”

Jaber further adds: “Because people are becoming more open to the idea of sustainability, we will find that a lot of the optional credits will become mandatory. I believe we will see more requirements and the regulations will become more stringent.”

Those who are used to attending The Big 5 are likely aware of the chaos that can arise simply by the amount of people in attendance. In order to make sure you get the best out of your visit, we’ve crafted a great programme for our readers.

Your guide to The Big 5 2014:

The Big 5 can be overwhelming for new visitors, so CID has created a programme highlights list tailored to designers to help make sure your visit is as meaningful as possible.

17 November 2014 13:00 – 15:00
The secret to the perfect design pitch
Hosted by Manish Dikshit, architect and founder of, the talk will focus on how to showcase a big idea as well as best communicate the inspiration for particular designs.

18 November 2014 12:00
Panel Session: Forecasting growth and new opportunities in the region’s hotel and hospitality sector
The panel discussion will address how many hotel rooms are needed to meet the region’s increasing demand for business and leisure travel, as well as assess the need for budget, mid-market, luxury and hotel-apartments.

18 November 2014 12:45
The Big 5 International Project Showcase: Transcorp Hilton Lagos, Nigeria
Learn how the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, located in the Nigerian Ikoyi neighbourhood, focused on sustainable design without losing sight of incorporating local culture. Shawn Basler, principal and executive director, Perkins Eastman will host the discussion.

18 November 2014 13:45
The Gaia Awards
Attend the awards to witness projects and products being recognised for their outstanding effort towards creating a greener tomorrow.

18 November 2014 13:15
Applying Dubai’s green building regulations to mixed-use, commercial and hospitality projects
Also hosted by Shawn Basler, this discussion will look at how to establish the best practice in applying Dubai’s green building codes to new projects as well as highlight materials and technologies that help reduce energy and water consumption.

19 November 2014 8:30—17:00
LEED v4 integrative design and construction process
The full-day course will take you through the various phases of incorporating sustainable initatives throughout the various stages of the design and build process. Mario Seneviratne, LEED Fellow and managing director, Green Technologies, will be speaking.

19 November 2014 13:00
New approaches and technology deployment strategies to achieve sustainability targets
Attend the seminar to better understand how designing green is the means to a better tomorrow, rather than the end point. Hosting the seminar is Sougata Nandi, a self-titled sustainable development evangelist.

19 November 2014 15:30 – 16:00
The Big 5 Project Showcase: The Change Initiative
Part of the Sustainable Design and Sustainable Conference, attend The Change Initiative to learn more about the region’s turn to eco-friendly living. The talk is hosted by Bill Jolly, director, MEP and sustainability, Ramboll.

20 November 2014 12:00 – 14:00
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Strategies for LEED v4
If you’re still unclear about certain aspects of the LEED certification, attend this seminar hosted by Reniel Barroso, engineering manager, Green Technologies for a better understanding.