WETEX 2015 stood “at the forefront of sustainability”, according to Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA). But what does that mean, asks James Morgan.

This year’s Water, Energy, Technology, and Environment Exhibition dwarfed its previous edition. The three-day event, which took place at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre in April, played host to almost 1,700 exhibitors (8% growth over 2014), and attracted approximately 25,000 visitors (11% growth over 2014).

Not only did the show include 26 national pavilions, but it also welcomed representatives from 27 of the UAE’s government organisations. WETEX 2015 was far and away the largest iteration in the exhibition’s 16-year history.

At least, we think it was. In truth, we’re guessing, because when this issue of MEP went to print, WETEX 2015 was just getting started. The above figures are based on the pre-event estimates of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the show’s organisers. Not that we’ve any reason to suspect that they’d be incorrect, but at the time of writing, we can’t know for sure.

One week before the exhibition, DEWA held a press conference to outline its vision for the show. The figures provided might have been best estimates, but attendees were left in no doubt as to what would top the show’s agenda. Sustainability was to be the watchword for WETEX 2015, with renewable energies, electric vehicles, and smart technologies taking centre stage.

“WETEX 2015’s theme is ‘At the forefront of sustainability’, because we believe that the exhibition has become an important platform that reflects DEWA’s call to the world to spread the concepts of sustainability in water, environment, green economy, development of smart cities, and other relevant sectors, in line with its vision to become a sustainable, innovative, world-class facility,” commented DEWA’s managing director and chief executive officer, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer.

Al Tayer founded the inaugural meeting of WETEX back in 1999, and remains the show’s chairman to this day. During his tenure, the exhibition has enjoyed a staggering rate of growth (just look at that table, below right), yet as the DEWA chief pointed out, his vision involves quality as well as quantity.

The show, he explained, was to be used as a platform to discuss the latest technologies from the fields of oil and gas, renewable energy, energy conservation, and smart grids. The management of water resources, with particular emphasis on desalination technologies, was also to represent a key discussion point during the exhibition, and DEWA would build upon its recent efforts to promote the use of electric vehicles in the UAE.

“WETEX embraces the latest electric and hybrid cars, as well as the latest technologies for these cars by the top manufacturers, in order to highlight their contribution to the preservation of the environment and sustainability,” explained Al Tayer.

“This move is in line with its smart vision to deploy an infrastructure for electric vehicle charging stations at various locations across Dubai, to facilitate the introduction and use of electric vehicles within Dubai, and support the Smart Dubai initiative of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to transform Dubai into the smartest city in the world,” he added.

Moreover, Al Tayer was adamant that WETEX 2015 would be characterised by communication rather than pontification. Industry experts would come together to engage in constructive discourse, and DEWA would take pains to facilitate this debate.

“[We are] planning to host brainstorming sessions in which leading experts will offer new and innovative solutions,” Al Tayer explained.

“We have invited pioneering thinkers from the energy, water, and environment sectors to take these brainstorming sessions to discuss the challenges facing each of these sectors, and come up with recommendations and solutions that will help the region and the world to make the most of the latest developments and best innovations in energy and environment sector practices,” he said.

WETEX 2015’s green credentials were further strengthened by its association with DEWA’s second Green Week, which took place concurrently with the show.

“Green Week will highlight the crucial role of Dubai in adopting green practices and projects, making it a model regionally and globally,” noted Al Tayer.

So, did WETEX 2015 live up to the hype in terms of numbers? Well, you tell us. Soothsayers we are not, but one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that WETEX 2015 was shaping up to be the greenest iteration of the show in its 17-year history. The official tagline for this year’s event was: “At the forefront of sustainability.” On this matter, DEWA did not estimate; it promised.

For our comprehensive, in-depth, and retrospective round-up of WETEX 2015, check out the June 2015 issue of MEP Middle East.

- 1,700 Number of exhibitors at the 2015 show, and 8% increase on last year's event