Qatar Construction Review has caught up with Mr. Rawad Sleem, Event Director at Project Qatar. The prestigious construction industry trade exhibition has a management team that never fails to impress exhibitors and visitors with their eye for detail and exceptional organisational skills. Project Qatar has to be one of the jewels in the crown of the IFP Group, so we are very happy to be able to interview Mr. Rawad about the 12th edition of Project Qatar, the International Construction Technology and Building Materials Exhibition, less than 6 weeks away from the live show.
QCR: Mr. Rawad, thank you very much for seeing us at such short notice; I am sure that this is a very busy and exciting time for the organisers of your hugely successful construction industry event.
RS: With Project Qatar 2015 fast approaching, we have indeed been both busy and excited. I thus thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about our work, some of our achievements to date and the goals to which we are currently working.
QCR: We have some questions about this year’s show for those companies who have not exhibited at the show before, people who have not visited and of course for those returning. Last year’s show was at the amazing state of the art Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) for the first time; Mr. Rawad, can you start by setting the scene and telling us a little bit about the venue please?
RS: The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) continues to provide Project Qatar attendees with the convenience and comfort that facilitate effective participation. Given the Centre’s strategic location off Dukhan highway, as part of Qatar Foundation’s campus, Project Qatar visitors are able to locate and reach the venue with ease. Typically, visitors arrive at a 3,200-car parking space, from which the building can be readily accessed. Once on-site, attendees can alternate between the 41,500 sqm exhibition area, the main conference area with a capacity of 4,000 people and a multi-purpose hall that accommodates 2,300 people. Additionally, participants benefit from the 52 private meeting rooms, waiting rooms as well as VIP suites, equipped with the latest technology. These facilities enable attendees to customize their Project Qatar experience, and allow us to meet visitor’s needs. The range of facilities the QNCC holds, coupled with its internationally competitive security system, make for a smooth and rewarding experience.
QCR: I am aware that there will be some new country pavilions this year. In relation to the venue, what nice features do you think will please first-time exhibitors?
RS: As previously noted, the QNCC is remarkable in regard to the flexibility for which it allows. Visitors will readily find their way around the facility, and will be able to seek out the kind of setting that best suits their needs and interests. QNCC enables us to host an event that provides the benefits of a large-scale exhibition with the rewards of more personal interaction through the breadth of venues offered. Rather than offering a standard exhibition experience, visitors are at all times able and encouraged to customize their stay at Project Qatar.
QCR: And the same for those visiting the QNCC for the first time Mr. Rawad, as far as international standard venues go, what facilities and attributes will your visitors appreciate?
RS: The centrepiece of Project Qatar is, of course, QNCC’s 40,000 square meter main exhibition area that brings together exhibitors and professionals from across the world. This really is the place where networks are built, technology explored, and knowledge enhanced. Yet first time visitors tend to also welcome the over 50 private meeting rooms and VIP suites, which provide a more intimate professional setting, and appeal through the kind of technology conducive to business meetings. Returning and first time visitors alike will likely welcome the facilities QNCC offers its visitors, ensuring effective participation.
QCR: In terms of exhibiting at Project Qatar, what makes this such an effective industry event?
RS: Worldwide, there are many established events that are relevant to professionals in the industry. What distinguishes Project Qatar, a market leader and gateway to the Gulf, is its location in one of the most dynamic economies and construction markets in the world. Guided by the Qatar National Vision 2030, the country continues to provide a rich business environment, as progress with many large-scale projects – such as Lusail, Qatar Rail’s metro, and the new port – suggests. Alone the 2014-15 budget for hotels, infrastructure, stadia and transport amounts to $62bn. Professionals who explore Qatar’s business landscape today, may be among those at the forefront of infrastructure projects – worth $200bn – in years to come. Given the country’s continuous transformation into a knowledge-based economy, the non-hydrocarbon sector – which already accounts for half of GDP – is critical and rife with opportunities for local, regional and global stakeholders. Project Qatar equips participants with the knowledge and networks to seize such opportunities by enabling business to form long-term relations, and showcasing the kind of technology that promises to inspire innovation.
QCR: How do you think the buyer and seller markets at Project Qatar reflect the supply and demand of the Qatari construction industry, since this is a very exciting moment in the grand scheme of things?
RS: In Qatar, demand for know-how and technology is substantial, and remains on the rise. The 2022 FIFA World Cup – with its series of eco-friendly, $32bn stadiums – is one of many mammoth-projects that are no less challenging than promising. This year, the dynamics of supply and demand within the industry will be especially visible at the two events held concurrently to Project Qatar: Qatar StoneTech 2015 – the 4th International Stone and Stone Technology Show – and Heavy Max 2015 – the 12th International Exhibition for Heavy Machinery. Both reflect the growing demand for building materials worldwide and the need for heavy equipment and machinery, demand for which increased by $37m by 2015. Since its inception, Project Qatar has been committed to connecting buyers and sellers, providing access to latest knowledge as well as technologies, and thereby contributing to Qatar’s further development and the extension of business among industry stakeholders. For the foreseeable future, the construction sector will retain its vitality and growth.
QCR: We attend many events in Europe and of course especially the UK. Even those that have government backing do not involve so many state officials in attendance with the professional delegates, lobbying for companies on behalf of their respective countries. What is it about Project Qatar that the event attracts such numbers of international government officials?
RS: From the onset, we have sought to connect all industry stakeholders, regardless of the sector. Qatar’s achievements over the past years are remarkable, and would not have been possible without the ambition of its leadership, outlined in the Qatar National Vision 2030. In fact, the Qatari government at large and the Qatar Chamber of Commerce, in particular, have been integral partners since the very beginning. Over the years, given the growth of the Qatari market and the benefit Project Qatar provides to participants, we have also received heightened support from a wide range of sponsors and international bodies. Government officials are a critical and welcome part of our audience, and their ever-increasing presence speaks to the value Project Qatar continues to generate for all industry stakeholders.
QCR: Mr. Rawad, can you tell us a few countries that will have representation at the opening ceremony of the show, and Qatari officials or departments in attendance?
RS: This year, we look forward to welcoming a diverse group of professionals and representatives from Austria, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. Though – months ahead of the event – Around 95% of our exhibition space had already been booked, we still expect confirmations from professionals around the globe, so that this list of countries is unlikely to be comprehensive at this point in time. We are, moreover, delighted that Cyprus and the Netherlands will be among our new joiners in 2015. Once again, our visitors will benefit from an international crowd with global opportunities.
QCR: Why should companies exhibit at Project Qatar? And for the companies who are thinking of visiting, why should they attend?
RS: Project Qatar provides professionals from across the world with a setting in which knowledge can be enhanced, technologies explored, networks formed and business extended. By being located in Qatar, our exhibition provides attendees with firsthand insight and access to the many opportunities this vibrant economy and dynamic market have to offer. As a host of major events, and in pursuit of the Qatar National Vision 2030, this country is among the world’s most dynamic markets, providing an ideal environment for those seeking to extend their business. The testimonies of previous participants and level of support Project Qatar receives are a testament to the value we generate, and an incentive to those who consider attending. Attendees will, moreover, benefit from the three concurrently held conferences, which are LightingTech Qatar, held from 4 – 5 May, as well as HVACTech Qatar and Future BIM Implementation Qatar, which will unfold from the 6 – 7 May. There, participants will have an opportunity to extend their knowledge by hearing from distinguished speakers, including Florence Lam, Director and Global Lighting Leader at Arup, Dr. Neil Kirkpatrick, Head of Sustainability Middle East at WS Atkins, Manveer Singh Yadav, Director of Engineering at Grand Hyatt Doha, Dr. Mohamad Kasseem, Associate Professor at Teesside University and Ahmed Al Naggar, Acting Head of Facilities Management at Qatar Foundation.
QCR: What opportunities does Project Qatar offer to companies?
RS: Each year, we work toward providing our attendees with a set of three opportunities. First, we strive to enable the enhancement of knowledge critical to conducting business in the industry. Second, we are dedicated to showcasing the latest technology available in this sector. Third, we encourage participants to broaden their networks, and extend their business by pursuing Qatar’s many promising opportunities. We cultivate the ingredients that success in business demands.
QCR: So what should companies do to get the best out of Project Qatar?
RS: Companies – who have not yet registered – really should consider exhibiting their own expertise and technologies, as the foundation for future business. To fully benefit from participating in Project Qatar, those who have already confirmed their attendance are advised to log in into our B2B matchmaking platform to meet and conduct business with professional visitors that match their products and work profile. The easy interactive software will enable them to make the best out of their participation at the show! Curiosity about what the industry and the Qatari market have to offer are likely going to be the starting point of vibrant business relations. Thus, those planning to attend project Qatar should be keen to learn and give by engaging peers, thought-leaders and decision makers in one of the world’s most vibrant markets.
QCR: Why do companies keep coming back to Project Qatar?
RS: Typically, two factors motivate participants to return. First, visitors are drawn back due to the abundant opportunities this market has to offer – both over the short- and the long-term. Second, attending professionals recognize that Project Qatar is among the best platforms to navigate this market, given its commitment to providing knowledge, showcasing technology, and enabling the formation of a rewarding business network. Since our inauguration, more than a decade ago, we have perceived the testimonies of participants as a critical asset, and continue to tailor our exhibition to the needs of attending professionals worldwide.
QCR: What advice can you give to international construction companies that want to enter the Qatari construction market?
RS: Project Qatar, long committed to connecting businesses, as a partner to the building and construction industry, is an ideal venue to explore the Qatari market, as it provides attendees with access to both the insights and technology that drives the industry and inspires innovation, while enabling the formation of long-term business relations. As a market leader and gateway to the Gulf, Project Qatar may be the ideal starting point for those seeking to enter the Qatari market, and thereby generate value for themselves and the nation. Mr. Rawad, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and we really look forward to this year’s live event.