The Big 5 Opens With VIP Visits And Big Deal Announcements

The Big 5 2007, which was officially opened this morning by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, U.

A.E. at Dubai International Exhibition Centre, is the biggest ever showcase of regional and international companies from the construction industry to be held in the Middle East.

"Filling the entire floor space of Dubai International Exhibition Centre (some 37,000 square metres), the event features 2,839 companies from 52 countries and strong representation from the countries that comprise the world leaders from the construction sector in the form of 30 national pavilions," said Bernard Walsh, Managing Director of dmg world media Dubai, organisers of the event. "This includes the largest ever German representation at any construction event anywhere in the world." Thousands of products and services are on display, including the very latest innovations and services that are essential to meet the rapid pace of project development across the region.

The international standing of The Big 5 and the massive trade potential of the Middle East market is further underpinned by the large number of high-level international delegations that visiting the show this year.

Romano Prodi, The Prime Minister of Italy, toured the show on opening day, accompanied by Emma Bonino, Italian Minister for International Trade and European Policies, while Ambassador Umberto Vattani, President of ICE (The Italian Trade Commission) attended the official opening ceremony. Italy has the highest number of exhibitors at this year's Big 5, and the high level of these VIP's shows the importance of the Middle East market to the major players from both Italy and Europe as a whole. A high level party of VIPs from Austria also visited the show today, including Mrs. Brauner, The Deputy Mayor of Vienna and Mrs. Jank, President of The Economic Chamber of Vienna. They officially opened the Austrian Pavilion at The Big 5.

The 20 Big 5 exhibitors from New Zealand, all world class suppliers of niche materials and services across all aspects of building and construction, received a special visit from Dr. Trevor Matheson, New Zealand Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Wayne Mikkelson, New Zealand Consul-General and Trade Commissioner, Dubai plus Gilbert Peterson, Team Leader of the New Zealand Trade Mission. Other VIPs who have confirmed that they will be visiting the show include Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham, The UK Minister for Trade and Investment, who will tour the show on Tuesday 27th November - then on Wednesday 28th November, H.E. Kursad Tuzmen, The Turkish Minister of State for Foreign Trade will visit the show and meet some of the record number of Turkish exhibitors taking part this year.

The strength of growth throughout the Middle East and North Africa markets was clearly shown by an announcement made by French exhibitor Saint-Gobain, who confirmed this morning that their Flat Glass Sector operation (Saint-Gobain Vitrage) has decided to expand its presence in the region with the construction of a float glass production line in Egypt.

The facility will be operated as a joint-venture with MMID (El Mansour and El Maghraby Investment and Development Company), a major Egyptian Group developing activities in Industry, Real estate and Finance, and will be built in Ain El Sokhna, 120 kms east of Cairo and 40 kms south of Suez, along the Red Sea.

Output from the new facility will be sold on the Egyptian market and also exported to Middle East and African markets.

The cost of the investment will be approximately €120 million (over US$178 million) - construction is due to start in 2008 and production in 2009.

Ranked No. 1 in Europe and No. 2 worldwide, the Flat Glass Sector of Saint-Gobain (Saint-Gobain Vitrage) is active in 39 countries. In Egypt and the Middle East, it has had a network of commercial agencies (SGG Exprover) since the beginning of the 80's, and is also present through Autover, which specialises in glass replacement for the automotive market. This operation constitutes a further step in the Group's growth strategy in emerging countries.

600450 The Big 5 Opens With VIP Visits And Big Deal Announcements
Date: 27 November 2007

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