Middle East demand for British products growing stronger

UK Pavillion at Intersec 2015
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Middle East demand for British security products is only growing stronger, says BSIA

Despite increased competition from other countries, BSIA member companies are bullish about the market for security products in the Middle East in 2015.

That’s according to a survey of members of the British Security Industry Association’s Export Council who attended Intersec 2015 in Dubai. Some 75% of survey respondents said that the number of people visiting their stands had grown year on year and that the quality of attendees had been steadily improving.

Analysis of the research shows the leading technologies to be integrated solutions, HD CCTV, cloud storage and video surveillance as a service (VSAAS). Meanwhile biometrics for access control and video content analysis did not feature in the rankings this year – a surprising result given that they have both scored highly in previous years.

Tom Sharrard, Vice Chair of the Export Council said Intersec was reaching deeper into the Middle East market than before. “The UAE states were the first accessible countries in the Gulf States and what we saw before, in the early days of exhibiting there, was a flurry of business in the UAE but now we’re seeing a spread of visitors from around the Gulf region and around the globe,” he said.

Compliance with industry standards and technological innovation led the list of factors influencing customer buying decisions in the region. Further down the list but still important were ease of use, return on investment and purchase price.

“People at Intersec want better quality products and they come to the UK Pavilion because other areas won’t necessarily give them that quality,” he said.

The vertical market sector showing the most activity was critical national infrastructure which includes the vitally important oil and gas industry in the Middle East. This was followed by government, which includes public sector buildings and transportation, and then retail.

“Especially with the number of really big projects happening, quality is much more important than price, and Britain has a reputation for compliance with industry standards. Off the back of that, the BSIA and UKTI have really raised awareness of British products in the region,” Sharrard said.

Tom Sharrard BSIA

Tom Sharrard, Vice Chair of the BSIA Export Council.


An interesting feature of the Middle East is that there are fewer contracts overall to bid on but those that do come up are generally much larger on average than in Europe – four to five times larger. “They also tend to renegotiate later than in other areas,” he said. “Understanding the culture of negotiations is critical in the Middle East.”

The survey reinforces the findings of an earlier BSIA survey, its State of the Nation Survey, which showed that the leading export markets were, in order of importance, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Western Europe.

“What we tend to find in the Middle East is that ease of use and return on investment are at the top of the list of priorities whereas purchase price is towards the bottom of the list. That compares to the Eastern Europe market where price is more of an issue and things tend to be sold on price, not standards. Lifetime cost of ownership is overlooked – they understand the benefits but in most cases can’t afford the higher initial outlay,” he said.

Looking further East to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), made up of countries that used to be part of the USSR, the story in the past year has been quite negative. “For the past five or six years Russia has been a very important market for us but over the past 12 months, it’s dropped heavily,” Sharrard said.

“In our State of the Nation survey, it went from second on the list to second from last in a year,” he said. “I hope a lot of the projects that we were working on have just been put on hold – not lost for good.”

In North America, there are opportunities for British security companies, with 30% of survey respondents saying it was an important market to them.

“We’ve not found the American market to be parochial,” said Sharrard, who is also a Regional Sales Manager for Integrated Design Ltd, manufacturer of the Fastlane range of entrance control systems. “Although the US market continues to grow for us its share of global business has reduced a lot because of significant growth in other regions of the world.”

Looking ahead, Sharrard said that the biggest barriers for members of the BSIA seeking to export their products will continue to be price and local certification costs. Surprisingly, certification costs are still sometimes a problem in Europe where, despite the goal of harmonisation of regulation across national borders, local regulators and buyers can still cling to old-fashioned requirements.

“These are effectively barriers to trade,” he said.


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