Photograph of  wire connectors on black background


Cheap imitations are costing the Middle East construction industry 

Written By: Brett Smyth, General Manager of IDEAL Electrical™, EMEA and APAC 

The Threat to the Middle East


Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods now stands at 3.3% of global trade with the value of imported fake goods reported to be as much as USD $509 billion annually. 


When it comes to the construction sector, counterfeit building materials and tools are of particular concern. Research funded by the Construction Industry Institute confirms that counterfeit goods are making their way into the supply chains of major construction projects and, whilst the most common source country of such products is China, the Middle East is among the most common destinations. Indeed, the UAE once uncovered one of the largest importers of counterfeit tools in the Middle East when a staggering 150,000 counterfeit hand and power tools were seized, including fake Stanley, Black & Decker and DeWalt products.


Counterfeit vs. Authentic Products: The Differences in Compliance and Safety Standards


The prevalence of fake goods in construction projects is alarming, and the lack of safety standards is one of the most pressing causes of concern. Genuine, branded products are subject to rigorous product development and testing to ensure they meet strict quality assurance and safety standards. However, cheap imitations not only contravene patent law, but also often fail to meet the quality assurance and safety standards embedded in the development of branded products. This can cause danger to labourers and risk the construction’s quality and longevity.


In the Middle East, preferred standards can vary from project to project and from state to state, which is why IDEAL Electrical™ provides products that are certified to both US and European standards. Genuine products are clearly branded, UL, UKCA and CE tested and approved and are only available through approved agents in the region, so contractors can be sure they are working with safe, compliant products.

infographic about authentic vs counterfeit products

Counterfeit vs. Authentic Products: The Differences in R&D and Manufacturing Procedures


Branded products are backed by large research and development teams that study trends in the industry and develop products accordingly. This means products from trusted manufacturers are backed by years of research and testing to ensure each component of the end product meets the needs of the labourers and skilled experts who will utilise them.


In addition to meticulous research and testing, genuine products also have the benefit of being manufactured using high quality materials – something their counterfeit equivalents lack. The use of cheap materials, poor quality control and lack of testing for unbranded products means that product integrity is often a problem. On the other hand, branded products offer consistent product quality, ensuring items are fit for purpose, easy to use and provide a robust, durable solution throughout the service life of the installation. 


In the harsh climate of the Middle East, ensuring that every item used in an installation has been tested for its safety, suitability and durability in a hot, dry environment is of particular importance. Yellow 77® Wire Pulling Lubricant from IDEAL Electrical , has been independently tested to IEEEC (Institute for Electrical, and Electronic Engineers) and UL standards. With the Middle East region known to have some of the highest temperatures in the world, the climate leads to an increased risk of friction in cable pulls. However, the Yellow 77 wax-based formula is designed to remain stable in high temperatures of 32°F to 130°F (0°C to 54°C), sufficient variability for even the harshest of installation environments.


Similarly, IDEAL Electrical push-in and lever wire connectors are the result of a meticulous research and development process that ensures the company’s tested and proven products offer consistent product quality throughout their life, regardless of the environment they’re installed in. This is in comparison to counterfeit connectors, which are often cheaply produced and significantly less robust. As such, they are prone to perishing due to the heat, dust and high temperatures experienced in the Middle East, risking the integrity of the electrical network and causing potential safety hazards as well as project delays and liability issues.

What’s the Real Cost of Buying Cheap Supplies?


Naturally, this level of product research, development, testing, compliance and use of quality materials comes at a price, and it is generally the case that genuine, branded items come with a higher price tag than cheap imitations. But, as the phrase goes, ‘buy cheap, buy twice’, meaning the purchase of a cheaper, inferior product is a false economy as it will likely need replacing – at an additional cost. 


Of course, costs are a factor on every site, so it can be tempting to save money by opting for cheaper alternatives. However, it’s important to remember that well-known brands are trusted for a reason – they earn their reputation by consistently delivering quality products that contractors have faith in and have the confidence to use again and again without issue. Thanks to its understanding of the specific needs of the construction industry in the Middle East, IDEAL Electrical has been relied upon to supply major projects in the region, including the Abu Dhabi Airport expansion, the Riyadh Metro transit system in Saudi Arabia and the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.


By using trusted products from a reputable company, contractors can provide tangible quality assurance to their clients. This level of brand loyalty simply doesn’t exist with unbranded products and should contractors opt for inferior items, they risk installation issues, which could affect repeat business and even their own reputation.

Authentic Brands Offer Innovative, Futureproof Solutions


What’s more, respected brands are known for their forward-thinking, innovative solutions, continually investing in product development and market research to deliver the latest in cutting edge technology. Again, this is something manufacturers of counterfeit goods can’t compete with.


The innovative data connectors from IDEAL Electrical, for example have revolutionised network terminations, offering an alternative to traditional RJ45 data cabling terminations. Designed to provide fast, easy and consistent installation, ensuring a right-first-time termination regardless of the skill level of the operative – an important factor in the Middle East market – the FT-45™ Feed-Thru Modular Plug Crimp Tool solution includes single-piece connectors that avoid the need to trim conductor wires to an accurate length. Instead, installers simply remove an appropriate section of jacket and the centre spline if there is one, untwist the pairs into the right order and trim the ends flat. Using the company’s crimp tool, the excess conductor wires are then sheared, leaving a smooth, flat finish in a single action.



A Worthy Investment


While it can be tempting to cut costs by opting for unbranded alternatives, and contractors might make the mistake of believing cheap imitations will perform the same as branded versions, remember that choosing inferior products will result in inferior installations, with significant implications for the smooth delivery and quality of the build – is it really worth it?


For further information contact Kathrine Jensen via phone or email.


For company or product information visit or email Brett Smyth, General Manager.