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

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

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

Enhancing building efficiency for a greener UAE

By Saeed Al Abbar

With the UAE’s skyline dominated by skyscrapers, and Dubai alone being home to over 3,000 high-rise buildings,1  it is important that all stakeholders within the construction industry leverage the opportunities available for installing renewable energy systems in high-rises.

The roofs of high-rise buildings are often occupied with installations such as cooling towers, chillers and other equipment, which can limit the space available for installing renewable energy systems.

However, with an increasing number of high-rises in the region, it is important that initiatives supporting sustainable built environments are fully considered and implemented.

Emirates Green Building Council, an independent forum promoting sustainability, recently hosted a workshop to discuss the challenges and potential solutions in installing renewable energy technologies in high-rises.

Experts identified awareness, site issues, codes and financial schemes as key points to be addressed to promote the use of renewable energy systems. They observed that these systems must also be outcome-based to ensure reduction in energy consumption.

To bring a tangible shift, a fundamental transformation of the construction sector is needed by streamlining fragmented responsibilities of different stakeholders and developing business models that attract third-party financing.

Stakeholders must also look at implementing highly advanced yet cost-effective façade concepts, based on multifunctional components and/or new combinations of existing building envelope technologies.

An integrated design and close collaboration among a multidisciplinary team will further drive the implementation of renewable energy systems in high-rises.

With the focus on high-rise buildings continuing to grow, in direct response to meet the urban growth requirements, credible measures by developers to incorporate green building practices will contribute to the green vision of the nation and help secure the environment for our future generations.

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

1 State of energy report

Middle East Smart Landscape Summit 2016 Dates announced

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Middle East Smart Landscape Summit 2015

  • The Summit will be held on 25-26 April 2016 at Sofitel, The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai
  • Summit agenda will cover sustainable landscaping practices in the Middle East

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 22, 2015: The fourth edition of the immensely successful Middle East Smart Landscape Summit will be held on 25-26 April 2016 at Sofitel, The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai. Organized by global conference producers, Expotrade, the summit is the region’s foremost landscaping event, bringing together experts from across the globe to discuss the latest developments in the landscape industry.

This year’s edition of the summit, held under the patronage of the Dubai Municipality was inaugurated by Eng. Salah Amiri, Asst. Director General for Environmental & Public Health Services Sector, Dubai Municipality. The summit offers a platform for over 400 attendees including senior level landscape architects, government authorities, urban planners, developers, environmental specialists and contractors from across the GCC, to engage in intensive discussions on the best practices and embrace new perspectives on the trends and challenges impacting this space.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “Our Middle East Smart Landscape Summit has become one of the most popular events in the region, attracting the attention of experts from across the globe. The UAE has been at the forefront of developing initiatives for smart landscape planning. Our summit in its fourth year now, addresses the key themes integral to delivering sustainable development.

The 2016 conference agenda covers broad topics, such as Dubai Municipality’s innovations in landscaping projects; innovations in landscape design and sustainability; artificial turf designs and benefits for Middle East landscapes; smart irrigation techniques & technologies; sustainable development and urban planning in arid environments and native plant landscaping for the Middle East.

The two-day summit will feature a lineup of impressive speakers from across the globe, who will share their expertise and offer valuable and comprehensive insights and learnings. Discussing new trends and best practices in the industry, the leading experts will offer a wealth of information through keynote sessions, case study presentations and panel discussions.

The 2015 edition of the summit was a phenomenal success and the upcoming edition of the summit promises to be no different. Commenting favorably on the success of the summit John Samuel, Commercial Sales Manager, Global Light & Power LLC, said, “It was a great pleasure for our company to participate in the Landscape Summit. It was a very helpful summit as we could get good contacts and get to meet high delegates from different companies which would in turn develop our business.”

Mohamed Habbal, Senior Manager-Operations, Nakheel PJSC, said, “The summit is really phenomenal. I did not expect this many attendees and as many of lead and key concerned companies. This by itself is a main factor of success of this comprehensive conference.”

More information on the 4th Annual Middle East Smart Landscape Summit is available now at http://www.landscapesummit.com. Follow the Summit on social media with the hashtag #MESLS2016.

2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit welcomes Philips as ‘Connected Lighting Partner’

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, October 18, 2015: Arab Future Cities Summit Dubai 2015, is delighted to welcome Philips as a ‘Connected Lighting Partner’ for this year’s edition of the summit. Held under the patronage of the Dubai Municipality, the summit will take place early next month, on 2-3 November 2015 at Sofitel The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai. Produced by global conference organizers, Expotrade, the summit will convene senior policy makers from within the government, several thought leaders from across the globe to share their ideas and strategies that drive Dubai’s Smart City vision.

According to an industry report, it is estimated that by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s population is expected to be residing in urban areas. Given the wave of urban growth, the concept of sustainable smart cities has gained momentum. An integral part of the smart city infrastructure is connected lighting, that enables urban spaces to be more efficient, sustainable and makes it more livable for its citizens.

Announcing the new partnership, Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “We are thrilled to announce Philips has joined the growing list of sponsors for the Arab Future Cities Summit as Connected Lighting Partner. Philips has been a pioneer in introducing cutting-edge innovative products & services that has transformed the lighting industry globally. The future of lighting has changed; they have proved that lighting is no longer just a matter of illumination.”

Philips is working with cities around the world to transform the lighting infrastructure, in order to deliver more energy efficient, and more sustainable lighting in their cities. In fact, earlier this year, in the Middle East, the company was awarded a lighting refurbishment project by Etihad-ESCO to retrofit several power plants owned by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to LED lighting.

The importance of connected lighting will be discussed by Mr. Rami Hajjar, General Manager, Philips Lighting Middle East who will be speaking at the summit on the topic ‘Philips connected lighting: Value beyond illumination’. The presentation will emphasize Philips connected lighting vision as well as current connected lighting systems available in the region. Connected lighting systems from Philips connect people to each other, to the spaces they work and live in, and to the information and services they need in a particular location.

Philips connected lighting systems are available for home and outdoor applications, integrate seamlessly with other systems and share information on occupancy, activity patterns, and daylight levels.

Rami Hajjar, said, “Philips Lighting is committed to deliver innovative lighting solutions to help meet the region’s vision of building sustainable and livable cities. By taking lighting beyond illumination, Philips connected lighting allows cities and businesses to enhance and enable the spaces they manage, to offer greater comfort, personalization, safety, productivity and efficiency to the people that use those spaces.

An example is CityTouch, our latest innovative remote lighting management system that allows cities to manage and control their lighting environment in real time with just simple click, while also monitor their energy consumption. With greater insights and control on lighting, cities can save up to 70% on their lighting energy consumption. With Philips connected lighting systems, we take lighting beyond illumination and show how our solutions contribute to building a sustainable future for cities in the Middle East.”

More information can be found on www.philips.ae/connectedlighting

The summit that supports the theme of Smart Solutions for Sustainable Cities will witness over 400 senior executives, smart city solution providers, city and government officials coming together to discuss the technologies associated with smart cities.

For more event details, please log on to www.smartcitiesdubai.com

5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit concludes successfully

Keynote session in progress at the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2015

Keynote session in progress at the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2015

Dubai, September 17, 2015: The two-day Middle East Banking Innovation Summit featuring 20+ presentations, over 30 speakers and more than 450 attendees came to a successful closure on Tuesday. The 5th edition of this summit reiterated its position as the leading platform in the Middle East region for the bankers to engage in idea sharing on trends and technological innovations driving the industry. The summit commenced with premium sponsors Visa, Schneider Electric and IBM welcoming attendees to see the latest developments, develop new business opportunities and discuss pressing industry issues and challenges.

In tandem with the growing trend, Nilanjan Ray of NBAD’s opening address highlighted the growing need for banks and financial institutions to innovate and shared insights on the emerging payments landscape. Taking the discussion further on payments was Paul McCrea of Visa, who took the audience through the company’s strategy in developing innovative products and services. Placing a strong emphasis on innovation, he emphasized on how the payments industry has witnessed an unprecedented change with the introduction of new form factors.

Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE and Global Accounts Lead, Visa MENA, added, “Visa envisions a future where connected devices define the way people shop and pay, and that is what we have attempted to create with the connected car proof-of-concept, which was demonstrated at the Summit. In fact, we see a future where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from a ‘connected car’, such as petrol, parking, transit tolls, and drive-through purchases.”

Jonathan Duncan from Schneider Electric spoke on the data center infrastructure management and the benefits banks stand to gain from a connected infrastructure. On the other hand, IBM’s Naveed Minhas highlighted the importance of a digital studio and why banks need to leverage and deliver digital transformation.

The Day 1 panel discussion on Smart Payments Strategy was led by Amru Kotb of Cryptomathic and included inputs from industry experts Noor Bank’s Ehsaan Ahmed, Dubai Islamic Bank’s Dr. Haroun Dharsey and Gary Collins of Westpac Pacific.

Ziad Youssef, Vice President of ITB, Gulf Countries, Schneider Electric said: “In this digitally-driven age, financial institutions are expected to securely storage critical, sensitive data, be available round the clock, and efficiently leverage IT to deliver quality customer service at the touch of a button. Effective management of complex IT systems is thus a crucial component to the overall functioning of such institutions. To address these needs, Schneider Electric was happy to present our suite of datacenter solutions to the regional banking industry. The Middle East Banking Innovation Summit (MEBIS) 2015 was an excellent platform to highlight our value-add, and share hardware and software innovations which can develop enterprise in a strategic way.”

Westpac Pacific’s Gary Collins during his session elaborated on the need to innovate and design mass market product and payments in developing markets. Kartik Taneja of Standard Chartered Bank, explained the changing landscape and trends in the payments industry, supported with statistics and two noteworthy case studies on mobile wallets. Sessions on day 1 included speakers from Sestek, Collinson Group, Appello, Intellect Design Arena, CSC, Backbase and Entera as well.

Pedro Cardoso, Head of Multichannel and CRM, Emirates NBD kicked off Day 2 Summit with an extremely interesting session on addressing UAE’s success in digital payments. Apart from sharing remarkable insights on the payments industry in the UAE, he also launched the bank’s first social media banking product at the Summit. Called Social Banking, this service allows Emirates NBD customers to access their account and make transactions using Twitter’s direct mail service.

Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “We are thrilled by the response we have received from our sponsors and delegates and would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation for their support. In its fifth year now, the summit has grown tremendously in size and relevance. Over the course of two days, the summit covered pertinent industry topics, addressed emerging trends and provided a platform to showcase innovative offerings and solutions targeted to the banking sector.”

This year’s edition of the summit also featured an Innovation Lounge that provided 40+ sponsors and partners an opportunity to present their technological solutions. Additionally, the summit also offered two days of unrivalled networking opportunities that proved to be extremely valuable to the attendees.

Haadi Raad of Visa, Spinney’s Paresh Buch; Emirates NBD’s R. Sivaram and Sameer Soliman of Network International participated in a panel discussion on how digital payments is displacing cash in the real and virtual world. The panel discussion enabled an in-depth conversation and gave delegates valuable insights on the payments industry.

Day 2 sessions included speakers from Comarch, Infrasoft Technologies, Oberthur Technologies, IMTF group and SAS speaking on boosting customer engagement with wearables and beacons; banking in the digital world; fighting e-commerce fraud; transforming compliance burdens into business benefits with digital onboarding and addressing customer’s unspoken needs.

The event was appreciated by attendees, with senior delegates commenting favorably at its close. Renee Tannous Loca, Vice President – Strategic Planning, First Gulf Bank, said, “The summit showcased interesting content from great presenters. The panel discussions showed how groups can work together effectively. It has been a fantastic networking experience.”

“A very well-organized and efficiently run event. The summit had a range of informative speakers from a cross-section of banking and technology sectors.” said, Mr. Andrew Baxter, Managing Director – Global Markets e-commerce, NBAD.

Mr. Anand Narayanan, Head – Demand Management and Project Delivery, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank said, “The participation was impressive. It was nice to see an innovation element demonstrated by most of the technology service providers. I look forward to this event next year as well.”

The Summit came to a close with a lucky draw that saw four winners take home exciting prizes ranging from a set of Sennheiser headphones, a priority pass offering access to 700 airport lounges across the word, an iPad and a 2 nights’ stay at Sofitel, Palm Jumeriah, Dubai.