After the rousing and passionate kind of day we enjoyed here in Dubai yesterday, when an executive at the top of the tree in the industry and the peak of his powers delivered such an engaging keynote, day two of this MENA Industrial Gas Conference was always going to be very different.

The vibe is perhaps one more of practicality than passion. It was meant to be; the theme for the day was about technologies and operational models.

So what did we learn today?

Well, if day one was about opportunity, day two has been about unearthing where those opportunities exist.

We heard so much yesterday about the huge latent potential in the MENA region, about the prospects and prosperity that’s still to be realised. What we learned today is that this opportunity lies in CO2 and the circular economies, in food and pharmaceuticals markets and cryogenic equipment demand, in a whole range of emerging applications and geographies, and very much in optimising and strategizing internally.

Automation and digital technologies are very much at the heart of this, from automated cylinder filling systems boosting operational productivity to the unstoppable behemoth in IOT solutions and leveraging the data that generates.

You only have to look at the thoughts and projections of Anova CEO Chet Reshamwala. He couldn’t have been more positive and almost forceful in his summary of the data and IOT capabilities for our industry to utilise and the need to act fast or be left behind. It was an insightful, engaging and infectious talk that perfectly captured one of the biggest trends facing the gases industry.

”We learned from Imeri that there are many factors at play in the success story of a Tier 2 gas company, not least agility and diversification, but the underlying need is for a vision and subsequently strategising against that vision”

Another take on strategising internally has been the importance of having a vision, perhaps even a dream, if you will. We heard about this briefly yesterday from Buzwair Gases’ Frank Brunsdon, and this was a key tenet of this morning’s agenda, courtesy of an esteemed keynote from SOL Group’s Renato Imeri.

It’s a hot topic in the region and on the sidelines of the event; there are, after all, so many companies at a Tier 2 level and even smaller that are fighting to survive in ever more challenging markets and not just survive, but thrive. It was a talking point at gasworld’s last MENA conference here in Dubai in two years ago (September 2017), and it remains so today.

We learned from Imeri that there are many factors at play in the success story of a Tier 2 gas company, not least agility and diversification, but the underlying need is for a vision and subsequently strategising against that vision. “You have to be brave and do the best in taking opportunities to secure the best future for your company,” he enlightened. “And we have to dream. For a Tier 2 company it is always important to have a vision for the future.”

Finally, we heard about the vision for the global helium business over the coming years, thanks to closing keynote Phil Kornbluth, President of Kornbluth Helium Consulting and a veteran of the helium industry over the last 30 years. Crystal ball projections are never easy, he said, but his drew a rousing applause at its conclusion and we now know that we’re likely to be looking at a very different helium market in the next five years.

Our vision was to deliver all of these insights over the last two days, to bring together the industry in the name of progress and performance, and we hope you’ll agree we realised our dream. Until next time around, in Munich next April, thanks for reading.