Taking the pulse of the lighting industry in the Middle East

Exhibitions like Light Middle East provide an important opportunity to take the industry’s temperature, with networking conversations as important as the products and services on display. That means Dishan Isaac, Senior Show Manager for Light Middle East, is in a good position to comment on the industry’s current and future status …

Lighting Solutions: What’s your assessment of the lighting market in the Middle East?

Dishan Isaac: On a market level, the Middle East architectural lighting design and technology industry is tipped to continue on an upward track. Our knowledge partner 6Wresearch estimates the regional lighting fixtures market was worth $4.8 billion in 2018, a nine percent increase over the previous year, and this will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent to be worth $8.7 billion in 2024.

Where are the key growth areas?

When we talk about trends and opportunities, LED technology certainly continues to rise in popularity on account of its energy efficiency and lower maintenance requirements. But this is now expanding into smart lighting and Human Centric Lighting.

For example, the Middle East’s smart lighting market, worth $678 million last year, is estimated to grow to be worth $2.1 billion in 2023. Favourable government initiatives toward energy efficiency and all things ‘smart’ is a catalyst for this growth, as is higher per capita income, a growing preferences for luxurious homes and the rise of IoT and building automation.

The emergence of LiFi is an exciting opportunity in the market, and while still very much in its nascent stages, has transformative possibilities as the technology of the future. Dubai is tipped as an early adopter of LiFi, and it’s a technology we feel the lighting industry could hugely benefit from.

Indeed, an introduction to LiFi and its potential applications is one of the topics at the THINKLIGHT conference at Light Middle East this year under one of the three main tracks of IoT and Intelligent Lighting.

How about Human Centric Lighting?

The trend towards HCL has also been singled out as a hot topic for designers and scientists alike. HCL is another big talking point at THINKLIGHT, and its applications can have a profound impact across the board, from offices, at home, and in restaurants, to factories, warehouses, schools or hospitals.

On the exhibition floor at Light Middle East, HCL will open up immense possibilities for all involved in the development supply chain, from design to final occupancy. HCL is poised to take the intelligent building concept to a whole new level and we believe it will mimic and potentially outstrip the achievements of LED technology.

And is retrofitting going to have similar importance for the industry?

The Middle East is unique in that the adoption and installation of the latest lighting technology are commonplace.

However, regional governments are implementing policies that promote more efficient solutions to deliver energy, financial and environmental savings. We see the retrofitting market rising up the architectural lighting design agenda.

In the UAE, buildings are estimated to consume almost 90 percent of the country’s total electricity output – hence the need to improve the energy efficiency of the building sector. Retrofitting is key to achieving significant savings; it’s estimated that deep retrofits could as much as halve the energy consumption of existing buildings.

Large-scale replacements and smart technologies are emerging throughout the region with the UAE having already installed LED street lighting over hundreds of kilometres of streets, and having retrofit lighting systems in shopping centres, digital billboards and other commercial projects. These energy-efficient replacements will continue throughout the country, and new projects will follow the government’s energy-saving product regulations.

Like most Messe Frankfurt shows, Light Middle East has become more than just a market for goods and services: it also functions as an important meeting place for the industry and a measure of its professional development. What are you doing to help establish the fair’s standing in the industry? What are the key extras, and what are they for?

Engaging and giving back to the regional lighting design community has been an important part of Light Middle East’s growth strategy, and over the last four to five years we have developed very special relationships both regionally and internationally with many of the industry’s key stakeholders.

These interactions have helped Messe Frankfurt Middle East develop an extensive programme of value-added events at Light Middle East that foster the industry’s growth and development.

Features such as the Light Middle East Awards are a nod to the past, recognising the outstanding creative processes behind stunning regional and international lighting projects, while THINKLIGHT is an important knowledge-sharing platform.

The Ready Steady Light competition in partnership with the UK Society of Light & Lighting, and The Lighting Institute workshops – happening for the first time this year – are further examples of how Light Middle East is endeavouring to become the one annual professional platform where the regional industry has to be.

And then there’s Light.ication, which, in its fourth year in 2019, is going global, and is partnering with Women In Lighting to promote lighting design to university students across the world.

All these special events wouldn’t be possible without the strong support from the architectural lighting design community, and its testament to their passion for the industry that they’re as committed as we are to making Light Middle East such a success.

How do you see the next five years, both for the lighting industry in the region and for the development of Light Middle East?

I’m very excited, naturally, on both counts. The industry itself is already in a transformative era, but the pace is likely to accelerate bringing with it immense opportunities.

Light Middle East takes place in Halls 1 to 3 of the Dubai World Trade Centre on 15 – 17 October 2019. Prolight + Sound Middle East, the region’s professional Lighting, Audio & AV technology trade show for events, rental, install and integration, will run alongside Light Middle East in 2019. Register online to avoid the queues …