Is Dubai just down - or down and out? We'll be taking the temperature of the emirate's construction industry at giant property expo Cityscape next week. Stephen Fidler kicks off our series of reports on this year's event.

Five days, 12 hours, 50 minutes and 23 seconds. The Cityscape website has just told me how long before the event kicks off.

I can only ever remember counting down so precisely to one event in my life. As a youngster it was Christmas Day and the annual visit of the man in red with the big white beard.

Casting the mind back a couple of years and that palpable sense of anticipation would be hanging in the humid desert air as Cityscape Dubai drew closer. It really was just like Christmas in that sense. Everyone you seemed to meet in the weeks before wanted to talk about it. That’s missing this year. And so it seems will be the circles of hungry investors who always made me feel like a bystander on the first day.

This year’s definitely going to have a different atmosphere. “Confidence, completion, delivery and unity” are the themes according to the brochure. I think they are really well chosen words.

Seems the city’s big shots, Emaar and Nakheel, turned over the page before reading the “unity” bit though! They had their collars felt in the lead up after initially shunning the event. Remarkable u-turns were subsequently performed on the scale of Steve Redgrave at the Olympics, when he famously told the world “If you ever see me in a boat again, I give you permission to shoot me”, only to row to another gold four years later!

So who else is going to be there? I had a sneaky preview of the layout and saw the usual stalwarts taking the big spaces, TDIC, Dubai Properties, Aldar. Few new names. I'd be interested to see what they have on show. Meydan are there again, probably with that colossal model from last year of the new Dubai racecourse – don’t mean to get carried away but that development has made staggering progress and looks amazing on site.

I’ve lined up a few meetings and will be keen to do some constructive networking, it’s a fabulous environment for that. Nobody has invited me to any cocktail parties so I will be heading over the road to recuperate at Longs Bar on the other side of Sheikh Zayed Road. Now that the metro is open, I can avoid the taxi scrum outside the trade centre and walk across the new pedestrian bridge, excellent! Getting home later, well that is going to be a taxi job …