UK companies seek access into the Middle East’s electricity and water sectors

By Albert Kahlow,

The Middle East’s renewable, electricity and water sectors are fast becoming a hive of activity, with UK companies keen to get involved by attending the Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition (WETEX) to fast-track their access.

The Middle East’s growth over the last 30 years has been dominated by its plentiful fossil fuel reserves. As such, there has been little demand for new suppliers in the electricity and water sectors – traditionally leaving little opportunity for ambitious UK companies looking to grow. In the past, people have been known to put in years of hard work trying to get established in the region.

But, the tides are swiftly changing. Low oil prices and a target from leaders to provide a sustainable future energy source means that the Middle East is now in a hurry to diversify.

Business leaders and decision-makers in the region have demonstrated commitment to revolutionising the region’s energy landscape. New initiatives and targets have been introduced to help drive the way, including the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This plan sets out the city’s vision to become a global centre of clean energy and green economy. As part of this, Dubai is targeted to provide seven percent of its energy from clean sources by 2020, rising to 25 percent by 2030 and 75 per cent by 2050.

The change is already clear to see. One of the projects supporting this region’s sustainability vision is the Dubai solar park. When completed, the park is expected to cover 33 football pitches and produce 1,000MW of clean PV and solar thermal energy. And this is just one of the many developments underway.

These ground-breaking projects mean that there is a fresh demand for the right solutions, expertise and skill-sets necessary to bring them to life. Earlier this year, His Excellency Saeed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of DEWA and vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, highlighted $21 billion of large scale projects and tenders coming online in Dubai alone.

And, rather than reinventing the wheel, Middle East authorities are actively supporting and incentivising an environment of importing the necessary skills and services from more established sustainable regions overseas.

This is where UK electricity and water industry veterans come in. The UK has been developing sustainable and renewable technologies for many years. The market is mature – suppliers have honed the right engineering techniques, design knowledge and production expertise. They have a proven track record under their belts, making UK engineering and technology experience highly valued in the region.

What’s more, historic trade links between the UK and the Middle East mean that the UK is also a well-respected force in the region. In short, the opportunity is there for the taking – it’s now up to ambitious UK electricity and water innovators to seize it.

The biggest challenge facing UK companies is getting in front of the right people. This can sometimes prove a cumbersome process. A networking event might lead to a business meeting, which could lead to another business meeting – all to get in front of someone vaguely relevant.

But now things are different. Pressure is on for the UAE to meet its 2050 targets. The region’s industry authority – the Dubai, Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) – is on the hunt for the right partners to suit its urgent requirements.

As such, DEWA will be making use of its event WETEX, the largest event of its kind, to meet the right companies, with the right skills, to deliver on its ambitions.

Those exhibiting on the UK pavilion will get the benefit of facilitated introductions to key DEWA decision makers, including senior contracts and procurement personnel. These introductions will be specially framed to act as a conduit towards signing agreements.

Alongside the exhibition, WETEX will also host a line-up of industry-leading speakers. The sessions will provide an exclusive view into the workings of the Middle East’s electricity and water markets.

Attendees will learn about the successes and challenges to date, the current state of the industry, and the line-up of projects that will soon open to tender. These insights from directly inside the Middle East’s electricity and water industry will allow determined UK companies to assess the market and define their strategy for seizing the opportunity.

WETEX will take place from the 4th – 6th of October 2016 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.  Event exhibitors can by-pass the cumbersome process that has traditionally preceded doing business in the Middle East and fast-track their access with facilitated introductions, unique insights and unparalleled business opportunities.

Albert Kahlow is Country Director – UAE and Iraq, Airswift

Follow @BusinessRevME

Read the September 2016 issue of Business Review Middle East magazine


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