Excerpt from the article in TPMEA Magazine:
The UAE celebrates National Day in typically dazzling fashion (2 December 2022), with a spectacular ceremony that proves world-class events are well within the grasp of the country’s local suppliers.
‘A SHOW THAT WE CAN ALL BE PROUD OF’
A major feature of ND51 was the 17 floats, which were scenically dressed and carrying various props and performers travelling through the length of the show arena. This brought with it a multitude of technical and operational challenges, which People appointed KB Event to take care of. “Our remit was to examine the options and practicalities for manufacturing multi-trailer floats to a very specific design,” explained KB Event CEO, Stuart McPherson.
The brief stated that the floats were not to be pulled by standard motive units but by vehicles and drivers that would blend in and be “almost invisible”. He added: “The Floats were to present in a ‘road train’ format, with the initial brief having some vehicles as long as 60m under the control ME TECH PROFILE 55 of a single driver.” As well as an engineered solution for the floats, People asked KB to design and present a safe and workable method of operation that would allow such specialist vehicles to operate and move within the confines of show site with very limited space.
While in the UAE to complete a recce of the site, KB’s senior projects team met with Dubai-based VK Exhibition to work through a first vehicle and trailer prototype, before advising modifications required to present a stage one working vehicle.
In addition to a dedicated management team to oversee the development from prototype to operational vehicles and trailers, work through rehearsals, then finally deliver the show, KB Event also brought together a team of specialist Drivers, Spotters and Driver Buddies.
Mike Beard led the project management team, with Jim Bruce as his Lead Driver. Beard had a team of experienced KB Event show drivers and worked with local partner Marcel Meyer at EFM Global, who resourced and provided a team of one Manager and 44 Driver Buddies as well as Safety Spotters.
The whole project was a one-off design, developed from the ground up as a custom build. “Getting the vehicle and trailer design and build correct and fit for purpose in a safe and reliable manner while meeting the requirements of the creative lead of the show was a big challenge,” reflected McPherson.
“This was multiplied tenfold when it came to operating these unique, very large vehicles in an incredibly tight environment with a cast of hundreds of adults and children riding on, interacting with, and moving around the vehicles in show mode.
“Working closely with VK Exhibition on the design and construction of the vehicles, methodical planning of the method of operation and days and nights of rehearsals – initially just as vehicle operation and then with the crew and cast – ensured a safe and very successful delivery of everything the client desired.”
While he was “very happy” with the design and engineering solution, the most pleasing aspect for McPherson was “the hard work, dedication and professionalism of the Driving teams, Driver Buddies, Safety Spotters and Project Management, who worked tirelessly in pre-production planning, rehearsals and then delivered a flawless show, exactly as planned”. He added: “This isn’t the first time we’ve worked in the UAE, and it was a delight to work with the whole team in Abu Dhabi.”
People CEO, Tim Elliott concluded by reflecting on the scale of the achievement. “This project had a huge number of moving parts, from mass cast to mass vehicle movements, automation to augmented reality, hundreds of props to real-life items – such as a 300-tonne train,” he recalled. “To deliver this, the cohesion of collaborators was essential. We had an incredible collection of creatives, partners, and suppliers – some of which were new to us, but many are long-term partners.
He added: “It was one of those shows that made me proud to know so many talented people that put so much energy and commitment into the project. It was also a privilege to work alongside the talents from Es Devlin Studio and Done+Dusted, each of whom played a huge part in the project’s success. Thank you to everyone involved.”