Smart Cities, Sustainable Cities: The Future of Urban Development in Qatar

One of the most important aspects of sustainable design is its ability to adopt a multilayered understanding of the needs of communities, sites and the environment to propose integrated solutions that not only address short and long term environmental and economic benefits but could provide opportunities to enhance social and cultural aspects of the development. Over the past few years, this has extended beyond the scale of buildings well into the public realm to include sustainable urban development strategies, infrastructure design and smart city solutions.

The reasons for creating more sustainable design solutions to minimize the environmental impact of cities are no longer questionable. The main issues facing designers and developers now are how to find the most suitable, smart city solutions that balance client needs, project budgets and the environmental design challenges and opportunities that arise from a project’s context. This is why creating sustainable urban environments will be a continuous endeavor that the Middle East will be experiencing over the coming years.

Fueled by an economic boom that adds pressure on available resources, Qatar, like other countries in the region, is at a crossroads to rethink its approach to urban planning and design to create more sustainable built environments on a macro level and redefine the impact of its future cities. Many steps have already been taken as part of the country’s ongoing efforts to realize the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, where the country is witnessing a number of large-scale development projects set to the highest local and international sustainability standards. Over the coming years, it is crucial to continue down this path by providing the necessary tools to ensure that targets are met. The integrated efforts of all stakeholders will not only ensure that goals are realized but set on a continuous path of sustainable development.

–  by Rashed Al Nasa’a, Senior Sustainability Consultant, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, GSAS CGP, PQP, Arab Engineering Bureau

The Power of Words: How to engage your audience when presenting at a Conference

Have you heard people say, good speakers are born, not made? Well, I am here to tell you that it is a myth. No one is born a good speaker – you develop certain skill sets that make you a good speaker and you further hone those skills with experience. You were not born with a stellar command of your language, you developed it over time. Similarly, you become an inspiring speaker over a period. Good public speaking skills will only boost your confidence, make you more eloquent and ultimately help you advance in your career.

Can you remember an instance when you tried to wriggle yourself out of a situation, because you were nominated to present on behalf of your team and you preferred to be a spectator and let some other team member enjoy the limelight, only because you have stage fright? To you, I say, anyone can become a public speaker. There is no ONE essential requirement to be an exceptional speaker. It is a blend of many skill sets – inherent and acquired.

Content is king

You need to know everything about your content, and when I say everything, I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. You don’t want to be in a situation where you are fumbling for answers because you didn’t think your audience would ask questions about it. A humble request, please don’t be one of those who have someone else create their presentation for them and then deliver it in a robotic manner, because that will not get you anywhere. When you are on stage, you need to develop a rapport with your audience; they should be clued in to your presentation and not lose interest midway.

Remember to keep your audience engaged. Use analogies and metaphors. Deliver insightful content in a crisp manner – a combination of textual and visual content is a more persuasive method than wholly verbal presentations. The power of visual content in a presentation is undeniable. I have seen speakers present to an audience of 300 or more in a room and not lose their audience interest even once. This brings me to the second most important requirement, voice modulation.

It is not what you say, but how you say it

The importance of pitch and tone while communicating is crucial. Using an aggressive tone can give an altogether different impression. Have you ever been in a situation when you were in a discussion with friends/ colleagues and you have miffed them with your point of view. More often than not, people are receptive to different ideas and perceptions, but it is the tone of voice that makes the difference. Use your voice to create an impact. Finding the right tone, volume and tempo are crucial factors in delivering a powerful speech/ presentation. A monotone pitch would indicate that you are quite unenthusiastic. Have a clear voice. Find the right timing to pause between sentences and most importantly modulate your tone depending on the text you are presenting. Once you have mastered this as well, the next crucial factor that you need to bear in mind is non-verbal communication.

Passion changes everything

All those public speakers who are popular and considered the best are the ones who engage with their audiences. To be able to connect with your audiences isn’t as difficult as you think it to be. The key is to be passionate about your topic. Speakers are also known to use hand gestures in enhancing presentations – the general rule is that your confidence is directly proportional to the way your ‘hands talk’ as you present. Excitement and passion are infectious. Your confidence and positive energy will also reflect in your body language; walk across the stage and don’t be limited to standing in one spot. Let your audience feel the vibe.

If you want to enter the niche category of becoming a powerful orator and an inspiring speaker, there is one thing you need to do. Practice. Practice. Practice. You can never be over prepared. Invest in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will.

Remember, good speakers are made and not born! All the great speakers were bad speakers at first. Les Brown once said, ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great’, so what are you waiting for – get going! ­

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

Rising to greener heights

By Saeed Al Abbar

When tall buildings first emerged in the late 19th century in the USA to meet the growing demand for inner city office space, little did anyone imagine that nearly 8,000 miles to the East and over 120 years later, a small desert country, the United Arab Emirates, would boast the tallest skyline in the world.

In the Middle East, especially the UAE, the construction of tall and super tall structures is on a high growth trajectory. In fact, since 2009, UAE has been home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.

As the Middle East continues to build skyscrapers, the earlier view of tall buildings as large scale energy consumers with little regard for sustainable architecture is now rapidly changing. The new generation of tall buildings are being designed with energy conservation and sustainability as their principal criteria.

The UAE has made significant strides since 2006 to drive the green building agenda with numerous ground breaking frameworks and programmes being implemented by the public sector. Emirates Green Building Council, an independent forum promoting sustainability, has been leading discussions on identifying solutions for existing buildings to become sustainable while ensuring that new ones are designed with ‘green building’ features.

The focus on sustainable built environments reflects His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai’s initiative for a ‘green economy for sustainable development’.

All tall building stakeholders need to look closely at the important aspects of implementing new technologies and features. We need these credible measures by developers to incorporate green building practices to contribute to the green vision of the nation.

 – Saeed Al Abbar is the Chairman of Emirates Green Building Council

Step up to stand out – Why you need to speak at conferences?

Do you deal with rapid heartbeat and break into cold sweat at thought of having to speak at a public platform? If yes, then you are one of the many that experience speech anxiety. Based on research and articles, it is understood that people’s number one fear is supposed to public speaking, second is death? If you are one of those who would rather die than address a crowd, you sure are losing out on building your own personal brand. Yes, I know, you would rather face death than engage in public speaking. But hold on for a second. Take a deep breath. Hear me out on why it is so important and why you must consider it.

I am sure you won’t disagree with me when I say it is only when you are seen and heard that you are recognized. Steve Jobs. Guy Kawasaki. Jack Ma. Oprah Winfrey. Mark Zuckerberg. Jack Welch. As you read these names, I am certain you were also able to instantly recall the brands that they are synonymous with. The only reason you had no difficulty in associating the name against their respective brands is because these renowned personalities are iconic figures that are a brand name by themselves. They have not only dedicated their lives in creating a product/brand that is admired, but have also become a household name. Had they been apprehensive about communicating with the large audiences, they wouldn’t have been recognized as worldwide influencers. That’s a given. And these are just a few top honchos whose names I have mentioned.

While you innovate, and introduce the most cutting-edge products, it is important to spread the word out. Let your peers and stakeholders know. Always remember, YOU are your company’s strongest brand ambassador. No one else will be as vehement and vocal in advocating your brand. Be part of trade shows, conferences – network and expand your business connections, exhibit your solutions but more importantly, take the stage to educate the audience on your company’s offerings, USPs etc. The opportunity to address a gathering doesn’t come very often, but when it does, you need to make sure it makes a significant difference to your business.

As a speaker, you stand to gain maximum exposure, more than any other attendee at a conference. The innumerable networking opportunities are extremely beneficial to your business. Add to that the opportunity to interact with the audience at such forums to get feedback on your presentation/ case study that can lead to stimulating discussions and help bring in a fresh perspective.

The importance of delivering an impactful presentation doesn’t solely lie in the content, it is also the delivery that holds the deciding factor in being a good speaker. The content will be effective only if your delivery is powerful and engaging. The idea is to capture the audience attention and not let it waver. As you would know, enthusiasm is infectious, so express your enthusiasm to deliver a compelling presentation and make a sizeable impact on the audience.

The aim is to be eventually recognized as an industry expert – you need to speak from a position of knowledge. Knowledge is power. By sharing your knowledge and perspective to a diverse audience, you lay the foundation of being regarded as a thought leader. To keep your audience engaged, you must be mindful not to make a sales pitch. Instead, a case study or a product reference in your business presentation with insights about industry trends will pique their interest. Post the speaking sessions, participating in engaging discussion with the audience, and sharing more insights that will help them in their business operations, is the next important step in developing your reputation for being the role model/go-to-person for information pertaining to industry trends.

Of course, you don’t become an expert overnight. But once you set the ball rolling and are seen delivering compelling speeches that add value, you will be invited to be part of more conferences. The more often you speak, and address different audiences across regions, you are building your personal brand. Over a period, you will gain the recognition and reap the rewards that come from becoming an outstanding speaker.

To reinforce this, you need to ramp up your PR/visibility quotient – a topic that I’ll leave for another day! For now, all you need to remember is, developing your personal brand goes hand in hand with expanding your company’s presence too.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel – Ralph Waldo Emerson

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

QGBC’S Vision For Creating A Smart And Healthy City

Qatar is currently witnessing unprecedented urban development, from the establishment of Lusail City and the development of downtown Doha, to the inception of numerous infrastructure projects, the need to incorporate smart technologies in city planning in an effort to move towards establishing a healthy city is becoming vital.

Retrofitting Doha to become a truly smart city requires the development of a comprehensive long-term strategy with active participation from all the relevant stakeholders in the public and private sectors. In Doha’s context, a smart city will fully support healthy living in all aspects including water and energy conservation, healthy air quality, increased community interaction and active lifestyle. The use of state-of-the-art technologies, such as smart water management system, intelligent and automated air, noise and waste management systems, and real-time communication mechanisms, will eventually help Doha move closer to realizing its vision of a smart and healthy city.

In an effort to conceptualize the development of a smart and healthy city amidst the ongoing infrastructural development, experts at Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), last year devised a comprehensive guide ‘Doha: A Rough Guide to Healthy Cities’.  The Guide, http://qatargbc.org/interest-groups/green-infrastructure, tackles the issue of the environmental health of urban areas which is becoming increasingly important to the world’s population as a majority of people are shifting towards inner cities.

Highlighting the benefits of planning and designing a healthy city, the non-technical infographic provides design and planning professionals, senior school students and advocates of sustainable development, with interesting guidelines on how to create a healthy city.

The key for QGBC and relevant stakeholders is to foster education around this subject to help create behavioural change in the process. This infographic is a starting point for such practices, which need to be further highlighted through national dialogues, the likes of Arab Future Cities Summit, the Qatar Green Building Conference, and the Qatar Sustainability Week.  Such efforts will foster the development of green infrastructure as a national resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits.

by Meshal Al Shamari, Director – QGBC

4 Ground-breaking Use Cases of Smart Data using HPC

High Performance Computing has primarily been applied within scientific research, the financial world and relatively recently also to forecast the weather. The financial services industry was the first commercial industry to adopt HPC. Nowadays you will find the most advanced HPC systems trading stocks in nano-seconds and generating massive amounts of money for their owners.

Banks have used HPC for pricing exotic financial instruments, optimizing their portfolios of mortgage-backed securities and managing firm-wide global credit and debit risks.  But there are more use cases for HPC in combination with Smart Data:

Fraud Detection

Fraud detection is an extremely important area for the financial industry. Millions of dollars could be saved if suspicious transactions are stopped before they occur. To do this, millions of transactions across the globe should be analysed in real time. The problem is that algorithms will need to find unknown patterns within that data, which could indicate a fraudulent transaction.

It requires not only analysing millions of transaction, but also many other data sources that offer the right context for a certain transaction. For example, is a certain credit card transaction valid or not. That not only depends on the transaction itself, but also for example on the location or the moment of the transaction.

One company that deals with these volumes is PayPal. On a daily basis, they deal with 10+ million logins, 13 million transactions and 300 variables that are calculated per event to find a potential fraudulent transaction. Thanks to High Performance Data Analytics, PayPal saved in their first year of production over $700 million in fraudulent transactions that they would not have detected previously.

Personalized Medicines and Drug Discovery

Already I mentioned the possibilities of personalized medicines and how it requires HPC. Although personalized medicines might still be quite far away, the pharmaceutical industry is already using High Performance Computing for drug design and discovery.

Drug design and discovery is a tedious process. It can easily require several years or longer before a drug hits the market. This is due to rigorous testing in labs on animals and later humans before it is made available to the masses.

High Performance Computing in combination with Big Data enables the pharmaceutical industry to find, for example, the right proteins for a certain drug among millions of compounds. This can be done thanks to simulation analysis and testing a plethora of varieties on thousands of different virtual patients. Thus, drug discovery can be reduced with multiple years, eventually saving a lot of lives.

Smart Energy Grids

Smart energy grids might still be long away; already multiple energy companies are experimenting with the possibilities of a smart energy grid. The potential of a truly smart energy grid is tremendous; reduced energy consumption, better and safer electrical grids and a safer and cleaner environment. Thanks to HPC, smart energy grids are becoming a reality.

A smart energy grid deals with massive amounts of data from a wide variety of sources, all located in a highly disperse network. Imagine if every household would have a truly smart energy meter and at every single moment in time, it is measured how much energy they use, from which devices, for how long and at what price. Multiplied by millions of households, we are easily talking exabytes of data that need to be analysed in real-time to determine whether someone is allowed or not to charge his/her electrical car. That can only be done using a HPC infrastructure and a High-Performance Data Analytics environment.

Manufacturing Simulation Analysis

From the beginning, HPC has been involved in the modelling and simulation of complex physical and quasi-physical systems. Modelling and simulation analysis enables an organization to gain a better understanding of a certain project, without the need to actual test the product in real-life. Thanks to this approach for example, Tesla was able to have the early edition of the Tesla Roadster pass dozens of tests, without the need for dozens of cars that could be crashed (as is traditionally done in the automotive industry).

What Tesla did during developing the Tesla Roadster has become common practice for Tesla. But also in other industry, simulation analysis can save companies a lot of money when developing new products. Thousands of iterations can quickly be tested taking into account hundreds of different variables. Based on the outcome of each simulation, the eventual product is improved. High Performance Computing is required to perform these millions of simulations, at least if you want to get it done relatively quickly.

Other Industries

Of course, these four industries are just the beginning of what is possible. Basically, any organization that wants to make serious business from Big Data could use HPC and HPDA.

Other industries that are already using High Performance Computing are among other the Space industry, Engineering (Oil and Gas) industry, Defence, Publishing industry, governments (think the NSA) and of course academia. In the years to come, this list will probably become a lot longer.

Author: Mark van Rijmenam

Mark van Rijmenam is Founder of Datafloq. He is a highly sought-after international public speaker, a Big Data strategist and author of the best-selling book Think Bigger – Developing a Successful Big Data Strategy for Your Business. He is named a global top 10 Big Data influencer. Currently, he also pursues a PhD at University of Technology, Sydney on how organizations should deal with Big Data, Blockchain and (Human) AI.

Key factors to consider when choosing to attend a conference

As I start writing, am thinking of the adage that holds true, ‘To reach a goal you have never before attained, you must do things you have never before done.’ With this, let me wish you success and the experience to enjoy new things this year. I am quite positive that with a comprehensive list of things that you want to accomplish, you are ready to take on the year. While we resolve to do different things, we need the resolve to do things differently. I will let that statement sink in for a moment.

Well then, with that thought let me continue. Did you know that one of the most popular resolutions made in 2017 (according to survey by CareerBuilder) include learning something new by attending more seminars or courses etc? This brings me to the crux of this conversation on how do you decide which is the right conference/ summit/ seminar to attend. What is that ONE key deciding factor, you may ask? Let me tell you, there isn’t one, it is a mix of a few critical points that you need to bear in mind.

You should never go to a meeting or make a telephone call without a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve – Steve Jobs

With any task, you want to accomplish in life – be it personal or professional, it is important for you to set clear goals. If you don’t list out your objective of attending a conference, your presence at the event will be futile. MICE industry is on a high growth trajectory1 with an overwhelming number of conferences varying in nature organized month after month. It is solely your discretion which one you choose to attend and which one to give a miss. It’s suffice to say ask as many as possible questions to the organizers. Mostly beginners tend to hold back asking any question to avoid looking foolish. To you I say, no question is a silly question and be sure to clear any doubts that you may have. You will be surprised that people are happy to answer your questions to help you make a decision.

You need to decide on what exactly you want to gain by attending a conference – enhancing your brand awareness, getting exposure to new trends and skills or connecting with industry peers? Once this is done, the next step is to research and choose amongst the many conferences being held and narrow down your choices to determine the right fit for you.

The second most important point for you to remember is the budget. While having said that, please remember that expense doesn’t always equal quality. This brings me to my next point, that is location. It is a smart decision to attend events based locally. If you are willing to travel intercity to attend the summit, you would need to factor in the travel and accommodation costs, which will increase the budget by a significant degree.

Now that you have shortlisted few summits/ events to attend, you must carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine the quality of the event – has it been running for many years now? How well-established is it? Events that are renowned have a certain credibility attached to their name. That is not to say, the inaugural events can be skipped. Find out information on the organizers, go through past testimonials or ask past attendees for feedback. To ascertain what the event has to offer and if it is worth your money and time, request for a post-show report of the previous edition of the event. You will be well-equipped with all the information – the various topics covered under the conference agenda and quality of the speakers, whether the speakers are regionally renowned or internationally based, their background, expertise and if this matches with your line of work. Aside from this, it is crucial to know the attendee profiles visiting to find out whether the target audience is relevant for you to expand your business connections and increase your brand visibility.

Always keep in mind your objective while you evaluate an event that is of interest to you. At the end of it all, most importantly you should be able prove to your management that your connections made and skills you learnt has outweighed the expenditure incurred.

To new beginnings.

1 Conferences and trade shows are predicted to be the largest events in nearly every region, with per event attendee increase ranging from 209 in Asia to 455 in North America (Source – 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn