Sophisticated window and door systems that meet both sustainability and safety requirements are steadily gaining traction in the GCC market.
In the words of Nobel Prize-winning songwriter, Bob Dylan, times, they are a-changin’. In the Gulf, this observation rings particularly true when discussing the construction industry, which is seeing the impact of technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
This growing sophistication, however, is evident not only in the technologies themselves, but also in how market preferences are changing. For instance, when it comes to window and door systems – the global market size for which is predicted by Global Market Insights to exceed the US $137bn mark by 2024 – property owners are now seeking products that are able to offer added value and benefits.
In the UAE market, specifically, while the large number of new villa developments underway in the country is driving sustained demand for economical aluminium door and window systems, another trend can also be seen, as Guy Dawson, managing director of Origin Middle East and Africa, explains. “There is an ever-growing desire for more sophisticated systems that offer ‘greener credentials’, in terms of thermal and weather performance, alongside durability and/or flexibility in opening, closing, and creating space,” he says.
This change, he notes, is boosting the performance of the replacement sector, which is where most of the demand for Origin’s products is coming from.
“It is common for buyers of new villas to replace all the doors and windows as soon as they take ownership,” he reveals, adding: “The benefits are immediate, in terms of savings on air-conditioning related costs, and the creation of open spaces leading to, for example, the garden or the swimming pool.”
A company that specialises in folding sliding doors, or bi-fold doors, Origin has seen steady growth in sales in the six years that it’s been in the UAE.
“A big development for us recently is the demand from restaurants and hotels, where our doors create more space for al fresco dining, or open up the restaurant to attract passers-by,” says Dawson.
Charles Constantin, managing director at GEZE Middle East, explains that the demand for window and door systems in the GCC states was stable this year “despite indulgent economic conditions, which had an adversary impact on the ambitious growth”.
Constantin says: “The biggest challenge in the industry is maintaining fair competition, where quality and brands are congruent when penetrating the market.”
He adds that, ultimately, decision-makers have the responsibility of honouring recommendations from consultant engineers, architects, and designers, as their objective is, ideally, to make sure that regulations are being followed, as they also work to ensure the safety of built structures.
Further emphasising the topic of safety, Constantin says that GEZE expected 2017 to bring about higher demand for engineered systems that comply with global standards of end-user safety. He believes, however, that the biggest opportunities for manufacturers of window and door products lie in the field of smart technologies.
Door and window products that can be connected to a building management system (BMS) are what suppliers in the region should be looking at, says Constantin. He adds that this is becoming increasingly important as the adoption of smart solutions is growing “in almost every industry in the industrial engineering space”.
Understanding this, GEZE – which has supplied swing-door systems to projects like Dubai Opera; the Administration, Educational, and Student Services Buildings (AESSB) in Kuwait; Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Centre in Kuwait; Motiongate and Bollywood Parks in Dubai; Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi; and the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) – launched its smart engineering system for façades earlier this year.
The most successful products have been the GEZE Powerturn Swing Door Solution and the GEZE Swing Doors family. “The initiatives that the Dubai government has introduced are a clear indication of where the future is taking those of us in the GCC,” says Constantin.
The emirate’s ambitious plans notwithstanding, he believes that no single market in the Gulf can be said to be leading the way in terms of demand for window and door systems.
Constantin explains: “It is more about economic dynamics and the energised construction cycle in each of the regional markets. Whenever we see large government spending within this cycle, backed up by reasonable liquidity flow, we know that it will, eventually, lead to an elevated demand in the industry for the market in question. Having said that, the entire GCC is committed to economic expansion, as evidenced by the strategic visions that the different member states have set forth.”
With its number of new builds and renovation hospitality projects, for Swiss architectural hardware company Hawa, the UAE is still one of the best-performing markets. The company has recently supplied its hardware to FIVE Palm Jumeirah Dubai hotel, as well as to the newly opened Renaissance Downtown Hotel in Dubai’s Business Bay.
“Other GCC markets were less active, but we are expecting these markets to perform better next year, especially with the steady recovery of the oil prices and the recent reforms implemented by the governments, especially that of Saudi Arabia,” says Adeeb Ghazal, regional sales director at Hawa.
Looking at the recently announced megaprojects, including the new US $500bn Metropolis Neom, Ghazal is confident that Saudi Arabia is still the most promising market.
“However, for the last few years – due to various factors, such as the decline in the oil prices – the market was not reflecting the expected performance. We believe this will start to change in 2018 and keep growing to match the Saudi vision 2030,” he adds.
As a company specialising in sliding door hardware solutions, Ghazal says his firm regularly faces the challenge of closing the gap between what the architect needs in terms of design and quality, and what the contractor is ready to pay.