- Sustainable design is now an industry imperative, says award-winning architect Baharash Bagherian
Dubai, United Arab Emirates: While climate change has dominated the headlines lately and will be the focus of Dubai’s hosting of COP 28 in November 2023, the Cityscape Intelligence Talks – the powerful conference series hosted by Cityscape, Dubai’s largest property search event – will raise calls for greater adoption of advanced technologies and industry attention listening to climate resilience alongside sustainability and urban renewal.
Taking to the stage at the Cityscape Intelligence Talks, taking place November 21-23 at the Dubai World Trade Center, Bhami Muhamed Ilyas, Regional Business Director of US-based CCP Wind Engineering, will call for a renewed focus on climate resilience while helping delegates to deal with the wind effects on urban development and its architecture.
“As buildings get taller, their shape becomes less conventional and the urban environment densifies, wind effects become an increasingly important consideration in design,” says Ilyas. “Based on an understanding of wind patterns and comfort levels around developments, architectural and structural designers can refine and optimize architecture and structural systems to meet reliability goals while minimizing costs and maximizing user experience.”
Advanced technology is promoted throughout the Cityscape Intelligence Talks agenda, which forecasts a wide range of issues including site inspections and providing transparency.
Panelist Bilal Moti, Managing Director of UAE Windmills Valuation Services, will participate in a panel exploring how real estate transparency can be improved through meaningful data.
“Gone are the days of repetitive manual work,” explains Moti. “It’s time to ditch old manual practices and move to process automation. Let’s turn our manual processes and decision-making into automatic decision-making – that’s artificial intelligence. Examples of where it could be used are lending, valuations and analysis of stock performance. Technology and artificial intelligence will facilitate accuracy, efficiency, confidentiality and control.”
Shruti Jain, Sales Director at UK data analytics provider REIDIN, claims that powerful AI-enabled data is the answer to providing industry transparency, which she says is now critical to decarbonization.
“Transparency enables foreign direct investment and there is a direct correlation between the two,” she says, while identifying Dubai as a potential regional leader. “Dubai is at a sweet spot. It is strategically located, a tax-free haven where properties are offered at fair prices compared to other markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, London or New York. It offers attractive returns, coupled with government initiatives to issue Green, Investor and Gold visas, has enabled more investment in the region. Because of these initiatives and increased transparency, it will continue to grow despite inflation.”
As nations around the world battle recession forecasts, Augostino Sfeir, Chief Investment & Strategy Officer at Abu Dhabi real estate developer IMKAN, claims real estate remains a viable investment option.
“Especially in times of recession, equities are particularly unstable as they can be easily hit by economic crises and pandemics, while the impact on real estate is minimal and only becomes apparent much later,” says Sfeir while forecasting that the UAE’s growth will continue even in the face of global recessionary winds are maintained.
“Given the economic, political and legal stability of the UAE, as well as the continued government initiatives and increased spending on infrastructure, the country’s real estate market is expected to continue growing and remain one of the most attractive and safe investment opportunities,” he assures.
However, Sfeir acknowledges that the industry needs to work towards adopting sustainability practices and predicts government intervention to push the issue forward.
“The biggest challenge today is the gap in educating developers, contractors and consumers about the benefits of long-term investment in sustainability. While development costs can be 7-10% higher than non-green development costs, which could impact the overall price of the unit sold, the consumer in turn benefits from energy savings, water savings, maintenance and waste savings. In addition to quality of life by improving air quality, which reduces chronic diseases and improves the health and well-being of people in these communities,” he adds.
“The government is expected to enact new legislation to reach the net zero target by 2050 and the challenge for developers is to be proactive by starting to incorporate sustainable solutions into their developments and moving forward most cost-effective seek solutions that enable healthy living at the most reasonable development costs.”
Baharash Bagherian, CEO of award-winning architectural design studio URB in the United Arab Emirates, says the industry is quick to recognize the need for the highest sustainability standards and define them as the “need” of today and tomorrow.
“There will be a shift in the way developers sell, away from selling a real estate asset and more towards selling a lifestyle. As such, there will be an increase in master communities that offer various desirable amenities, including a range of community facilities and green spaces,” he says. “We also predict that more sustainable communities will be planned around the world as countries race toward net-zero targets, while the know-how to develop such communities becomes more universal. Therefore, developers and investors will also try to diversify their assets to include sustainable real estate.”
Mohamed Shawky, co-founder and CEO of Dubai’s GIS Drones, claims that drones will be the future of facade inspection and building and utility cleaning.
“Traditional inspections require a lot of equipment, manpower and time to complete and the results are still not as accurate. Drones can eliminate all the disadvantages of traditional inspections and provide better value for money. The same applies to cleaning high-rise buildings, solar panels and wind turbines. Drone cleaning is replacing traditional methods, and we’ll see its full-scale implementation soon,” Shawky said.
The line-up spans the entire real estate sector ecosystem with presentations, case studies and panel discussions from local, regional and international industry leaders.
“This is an important knowledge forum for all stakeholders serious about staying at the forefront of industry developments at a time when the sector is undergoing massive changes caused by technological advances, increased regulation and geopolitical shifts in investment,” commented Cityscape Dubai Exhibition Director Alexander Heuff from the organizer Informa Markets.
The Cityscape Intelligence Talks are supported by the Dubai Land Department, network sponsors IMKAN and Staycae.ae, knowledge sponsor – Huspy, proptech sponsor – Land Sterling and supporting partners REIDIN, Propertyfinder and Houza.com.