The second wave of the Dubai boom is completely different

We are developing. We are producing. Relays, electronic devices, intelligent wiring, smart products for home automation. Succesfully, for years. And when you get to number two in Europe and find you don’t have much room to grow, you discover Dubai.

A whole new world. Pompous. Shiny. Spectacular.

That’s exactly how it felt to me 12 years ago. At the time, we had just developed the first version of our iNELS smart wiring system – and Dubai was the base we just wanted to be at. With all the big projects that are growing here.

And then we fell from the pear tree down.

Logically, because by that time the whole world was already here. Americans with big brands on their backs. Asians with cheap products and incredible motivation to succeed. Europeans trying to find their own way.

As ignorant amateurs, we started attending shows expecting to have our hands ripped off.

It didn’t happen.

Trust me, I’m a consultant

Then we realized that as the whole market is new, the way of selling is also different. And we had to try harder and go to consultants. Consultant is a position we don’t know much about in the Czech Republic. They are at most in big projects. But the Arabs often need a consultant even to build a garage.

The consultant is the anointed head who decides who will design it and what it will look like. He manages the architects, the designers, he is the engineer of the investor. They are well paid and their job is to be independent of the contractors.

You can get the investor interested, but without a consultant nothing will move.

So we went to them. They were friendly, they were nice, they let us price their projects, but in the end they always went for the biggest companies. Honeywell, ABB, Siemens. Nobody wanted to give us big projects – even though we could have done them. And the only thing that could turn the situation around was references.

We started looking for partners and grew a bit thanks to them.

We set up our first office.

We sent a colleague of ours who had spent a year and a half here with his family.

But we found that even on the ground it was very difficult to get into specific projects.

It was still not enough.

Glass at the price of plastic

Perhaps because the first generation of the Dubai boom was actually chaos.

Unlike in Europe, the only topic was construction. Wild and fast. The fact that our solution works in practice, delivers savings, we have a fast and responsive service and we keep our word – didn’t play a role.

The consultants made sure that everything looked shiny above all, but in practice, they often forced others to supply glass at the price of plastic. Projects grew and grew, but the sustainability of the buildings was often completely forgotten.

They told us how they themselves would have loved to work with American, German or Czech.

But they reached for a Chinese, Indian or Turkish product.

Companies whose names we didn’t know.

And who are now long gone.

The word maintenance was not part of the dictionary.

And now? Something completely different

Fortunately, we didn’t leave because times began to change quickly.

Sustainability, economy, materials, durability – that’s Dubai today.

The first partner we had in the region is now exclusively doing maintenance and operations. He has found that it is many times more profitable and profitable for him than competing for new projects.

We too sold the original branch to a large company. And we started a new one that is tenacious and incredibly driven. We’ve discovered the retrofit segment, where we fix hotels on the fly so that they don’t get stale and are still four-star or five-star, because there’s no other category.

We are turning Dubai into a place where energy is saved.

We are teaching locals that adding two stages to the air conditioning brings extraordinary savings.

We’re fixing up projects whose owners had nowhere else to turn because they had nothing in their contracts but fast and pompous construction.

It makes sense to us.

Economically, environmentally.

There’s a piece of European values in there.

And above all, I’m glad we didn’t give up.