25 - 28 November 2019

This year, The Big 5 is celebrating its 40th anniversary. More than a fantastic milestone, this is a unique opportunity for us to look back and remember how it all started.

I was told by colleagues who have been working at dmg events long before I joined, that The Big 5 has had its origins in an event known as Arab Water. In fact, the show that we know today as the largest construction event in the Middle East derives from the unification of five separate product-focused events that all had a link to the construction sector.

As we celebrate four decades of uninterrupted success, I often find myself wondering how did
The Big 5 trade show look like in its early days. 

To get a rough idea, I googled pictures of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in the late 70s, 80s and 90s. The Deira Clock tower surrounded by desert, and more desert, is what most of the oldest pictures show. As the years pass by, we start recognising the Trade Centre Apartments and the Dubai World Trade Centre Tower alongside Sheikh Zayed Road.

We can easily imagine that, at that time, The Big 5 was some kind of outdoor market place where traders would come together, and builders would go to in order to find the products they needed to develop the city.

In its early days, The Big 5 didn’t have the numerous international country pavilions and tens of thousands of professional visitors from all around the world it welcomes today. Neither did the first editions of the show offer the CPD accredited workshops and conferences, nor host the impressive stand builds surrounded by the state-of-the-art DWTC venue facilities we are used to nowadays.     

Yet, it already had its most important feature, which continues to drive the show’s success today: the ability to connect industry professionals from around the globe in Dubai, enable them to meet face-to-face, exchange ideas, and grow their business.    

Confronting the pictures of now and then, we cannot but feel astonished by the enormous changes and development this city and country have achieved over the past 40 years.

As dmg events, we can proudly say that The Big 5 has played an important part in this tremendous transformation. The Big 5 has been the gateway for thousands of international manufacturers, suppliers and construction professionals from all around the world to do business and build their client networks in the UAE and wider Middle East region. 

We are extremely proud of what we achieved with The Big 5 over the past 40 years, not only through our flagship show in Dubai, but also with our growing portfolio of spinoff events in emerging construction markets.

Today, celebrating this important milestone, we keep looking ahead as we continue to innovate and improve our events to meet the ever changing needs of the construction community and make a positive impact in the sector.    

Together with The Big 5 event team, I really look forward to continue developing The Big 5 in the years to come. The market outlook for the construction sector in the MENA region and beyond is strong. Being in the heart of this promising region, The Big 5 will continue to bring together the global construction industry annually in Dubai, to enable face-to face business, networking and learning opportunities, and ultimately, drive the construction industry forward.

Josine Heijmans
Vice President- Construction, The Big 5