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

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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

2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015 triggered discussions on integrated smart city solutions

Eng. Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General - Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality and Mr. Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City inaugurated the 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015

Eng. Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General – Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality and Mr. Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City inaugurated the 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 4, 2015: Various solutions and initiatives pivotal for smart city development were the key talking points at the recently concluded 2nd Annual Arab Future Cities Summit 2015. Held under the patronage of Dubai Municipality and organized by global conference producers, Expotrade, the summit witnessed participation from over 350 attendees from across the GCC.

Eng. Abdulla Rafia, Assistant Director General – Engineering & Planning Sector, Head of The Sustainability Committee, Dubai Municipality and Guest of Honour, Mr. Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City inaugurated the summit. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by an opening speech by both these esteemed dignitaries. Premium sponsors Samsung and DarkMatter also took the stage to deliver a welcome address.

Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Outsource City, said, “Dubai is already an established international hub for business, ICT, media and so on, with dynamic industries and a vibrant economy, and smart initiatives will further enhance the Emirate’s position as a leader in the field of technology and also in the field of innovation. This conference provided an excellent platform to showcase just how far Dubai has come as a Smart City, and also for businesses and individuals to discuss areas of future collaboration and ways to work towards our leadership’s ambitious goal; to be the smartest city in the world.”

All the invited speakers during their sessions covered different facets in the smart cities domain that ranged from cloud computing to cyber security; from ICT innovation to robotics; from energy efficiency to hydrology. Mohammed Gharaibeh, Head of Enterprise Business Group, Samsung Electronics Business presented on the company’s innovative end-to-end solutions that can be integrated not only in a citizen’s day-to-day life but also can be adopted by cities at large to enhance efficiency, increase productivity and security.

Dr. Mario Rossi, Landscape Architecture Manager, The Office of H.H Crown Prince of Dubai during his session emphasized on the use smart technologies for a better and sustainable landscape in Dubai. He supported his presentation with an extremely interesting case study on the implementation of robots for maintenance activities with the display of three robots on stage, which piqued the curiosity of all the attendees present.

The impressive lineup of speakers included Manchester City Council’s Stephen Turner; William Ruh of GE Software; Huawei’s Safder Nazir; Micorosft’s Michael Mansour; Shafik Jiwani of Rolta; Hive technology’s Gert Botha; Rami Hajjar from Philips amongst many others. RTA’s Abdulla Al Madani delivered a session on the topic of smart and sustainable mobility that provided a holistic view on the initiatives adopted in driving a smart government. His inputs on RTA’s smart city strategy garnered a tremendous amount of interest and was followed by questions from many of the summit attendees.

Talking about the success of the summit, Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, mentioned, “In the second edition, our summit has covered a broad scope of topics and themes that are integral to smart city development in the Middle East. Experts from the government and industry leaders delivered keynote sessions with case studies and strategies of initiatives implemented that offered tremendous value to the summit attendees. We are thrilled with the feedback we have received from our sponsors and delegates. We look forward to continue our success at next year’s edition of the summit as well.”

Wim Elfrink, President, Digitalisation Solution Ventures moderated the first day’s panel discussion on cyber security, safe and secure connected cities. Joining him on the panel were Eric Eifert, Senior Vice President of Managed Security Services, DarkMatter; Furqan Ahmed Hashmi, IT Operations Leader, Emirates Investment Authority and Yousuf Mohammed Al Shaiba, Director of Smart Services Development Department, Ajman Municipality & Planning Department.

Day two of the summit commenced with Paul Copping of The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s session on what a smart city constitutes. Steven Velegrinis of Perkins + Will outlined how hydraulic systems will be used in future cities as a positive transformative urban element, while Faisal Rashid of Dubai Supreme Council of Energy spoke on mapping the energy intensity for Dubai and management of energy conservation.

Dr. Zahra Al Rawahi, Director of Innovation, The Research Council – Sultanate of Oman during her session spoke of how ICT is the main enabler of smart cities, and also shared examples of smart city solutions by some countries across the globe.

The second panel discussion of the summit was on the topic implementing sustainable strategies to increase energy efficiency in Dubai with a focus on solar energy. James Stewart, General Manger, Alec Energy moderated the panel and was accompanied by fellow panelists Dr. Corrado Sommariva, Managing Director, ILF Consulting Engineers; Jamie Low, Associate Engineer, Buro Happold Engineering; Matar Suhail Salem Al Mehairi, Vice President in Asset Management Department – Distribution Power Division, DEWA and Jane Boyle, Technical Director and Head of Sustainability and Energy, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff.

With multiple networking sessions, attendees were presented with ample opportunities to visit the exhibitor lounge and connect with over 20 companies such as Samsung, Dark Matter, GE Lighting, Philips, Microsoft, Huawei, Rolta, Fusionex, Hive Technology and Introsys who showcased their smart city solutions. The success of the summit prompted sponsors and delegates to comment positively at the close. Salwar Bayaty, Assistant Director, Dubai Properties Group, said, “The topics and presentations were related to the theme of the summit and were extremely informative. There was a good mix and variety of presenters.” Mark Hauenstein, President, Technical Designs said, “An excellent forum to share ideas and technologies that promote and encourage smart infrastructure.”

The event closed with a prize draw that saw two lucky participants win a 2 nights’ stay at the luxurious Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa and an Apple iPad.

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

GCC BANKERS GEAR UP TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF BANKING TECHNOLOGY IN DUBAI

Keynote speech in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Keynote speech in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Dubai, August 31, 2015: Over 450 GCC bankers will come together next month at one of the region’s largest banking technology and innovation event – the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit, that will take place on 14th and 15th September 2015 at Sofitel, The Palm Resort & Spa, Dubai. Banking is one of the fastest growing industries in the Middle East. With innovation as the focal point, banks are reinventing themselves and investing heavily in technology to deliver new-age banking solutions to consumers. The region’s banking and financial services sector is well poised for an overhaul. With over 40 sponsors and more than 30 top local and international industry experts providing insights into the banking innovation sector, this Summit will be even bigger than the previous years.

Talking about the partnership, Mr. Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE and Global Accounts Lead at VISA Inc. MENA, said: “Innovation is what keeps industries thriving, which is why events like the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit are vital for our sectors and their evolution. In a time when cities are getting smarter and the population becomes more technologically adept, banks and payment providers must stay updated on digital trends and developments in order to achieve success. Visa’s participation in this event shows our commitment to our financial partners and dedication to delivering secure payments built on cutting-edge technology.”

The summit will feature more than 20 keynote sessions and panel discussions on pressing issues and trends pertaining to the banking technology domain globally as well as in the Middle East, and will involve experts Gary Collins, Head – Mobile Banking, Westpac Pacific; Marcello Baricordi, General Manager UAE & Global Accounts Lead, Visa; Paolo Barbesino, Senior VP, Head of Digital – CEE Retail, UniCredit Bank Austria AG; Kartik Taneja, Global Head – Credit Cards, Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore; Warren Cammack, Head of Innovation, Vietnam International Bank and Pedro Cardoso, Head of Multichannel and CRM, Emirates NBD amongst many others. Moreover, a powerful line up of speakers from local banks including Noor Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank will dive deeply into topics to share best practices and lessons-learned.

This summit agenda will cover forward-thinking topics that have been tailored to the interests of the participants and are pertinent to the region. Ranging from payments and innovation in developing markets to capitalizing on the social media revolution; from the future of cashless transactions in the Middle East to transforming compliance burdens into business benefits, the summit will offer attendees a wholesome view of the banking industry.

Emphasizing on the scale and magnitude of the summit, Mr. Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East, said, “Our Middle East Banking Innovation summit is one of the most popular events in this region. The previous four editions of the summit received a tremendous feedback from our sponsors and participants and this year the event has been planned on a much bigger scale. The summit promises to deliver high business value and provide actionable insights. With the quality and the number of participants partaking in the summit, we are extremely confident of it becoming a resounding success this year as well.”

The premium sponsoring companies such as Visa, Schneider Electric, IBM, Sestek, Oberthur Technologies, IMTF, CSC, Backbase, InfrasoftTech, Comarch, Entera, intellect, Collinson group, Cryptomathic, Appello will showcase some exciting solutions at the Innovation Lounge. Additionally, experts from these organizations will engage in a 20-minute session to share lessons learned that will help propel the industry forward.

Included within the Summit’s delegation list are over 450 representatives from leading banks in the Middle East region, such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC Bank Middle East, Union National Bank, Mashreq Bank, Emirates NBD, ICICI Bank, First Gulf Bank, Deutsche Bank, RAK Bank, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Barclays Bank and Doha Bank, to name a few.

The 5th annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit spread over the course of two days provides a gamut of opportunities for speakers and delegates to connect in an interactive manner, engage in cross learning and discuss business opportunities and challenges.

More information about the summit can be found on the event website at http://www.bankinnovation-me.com/

How are Banks in the UAE responding to Cyber-Attacks?

Panel discussion in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Panel discussion in progress at the Middle East Banking Innovation Summit 2014

Here in the UAE alone, with a population of just about 10 million people, we already have 23 local and 28 foreign (international) banks operating in the country and the banking industry does get really competitive. The country as a whole is often seen as ‘overbanked’ and as one would imagine – having over 50 banks that in turn have a network of around 1,200 branches, ought to be enough to service the most discerning customers. But according to a study conducted earlier this year (the first Brave Index), customer service standards overall at banks are still below the global service delivery benchmarks and work is being done to ensure that there is steady improvement.

Innovation is key when it comes to the world of banking and in a bid to offer consumers an enriching experience; UAE banks are adopting new strategies to introduce tailored products and services. In fact, just a couple of days ago the Commercial Bank of Dubai has offered its customers a mobile application that allows their ‘fitness-conscious customers’ to earn higher interest rates on their savings based on the number of steps taken in a day calculated by their Fitbit or Jawbone fitness devices.

Technology really has spurred a massive growth of services offered by banks in the UAE which are really convenient to use and while we have Apple Pay or the recently launched Samsung Pay – the Emirates National Bank of Dubai (ENBD) became the front-runner last year with their launch of mobile money transfer via the ‘mePay’ app.

At the moment in the UAE, online banking is still the most dominant approach when it comes to companies trying to manage their accounts or even individuals trying to pay their utility bills but the penetration of mobile internet in the UAE and the fact that telecom operators like Etisalat and Du have made it more affordable for users to take up packages that include mobile data has increased the popularity of mobile applications and paved the way for mobile banking in the country.

While there has been a tremendous growth in the adoption of technology by the banking and financial services sector – the growth is intrinsically linked with major concerns and threats of cybercrime. According to the UAE’s National Electronic Security Authority (NESA), cyber security is one of the biggest economic and national security challenges facing countries worldwide in the 21st century. The most common cyber security threats that we have seen in the UAE include phishing emails, spyware, data theft, web application exploits and website defacement which has prompted the government to put plans in action to stop these hackers from reaching our electronic borders.

The threats of cyber-attacks are very real and just last month, several banks in the UAE were hit by a coordinated cyber attack, which severely affected online operations and left some of us in the UAE with fraudulent transactions on our credit cards and bank accounts which took a while to get corrected. In recent years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of online security breaches in the Middle East and cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated – rightly so, a new research indicates that banks and securities companies in the Middle East are posed to spend USD 12.9 billion on upgrading their IT products, services and infrastructure.

For the banking sector in the UAE, risks associated with cyber security have not allowed for complete adoption of the technology available globally and this in turn means that local banks have been unable to reach their full potential yet. Instead, an industry report indicates that banks are investing heavily to build their defenses and bolster their IT infrastructure to prevent unprecedented cyber attacks. The report also highlights a future growth rate of 17% for the IT Security Services industry in the UAE with an overall value of AED 1.7 billion (USD 473 million) in 2018 alone.

In order to actively combat cyber-crime and cyber-attacks in the banking industry, it is important for the industry to gather and discuss pertinent issues so that best practices and experiences can be shared. And in the next three weeks, Dubai will once again host the 5th Annual Middle East Banking Innovation Summit on the 14th & 15th of September 2015 at Sofitel The Palm Resort & Spa. This will be an ideal opportunity for industry professionals to listen to experts and to check out the latest technology offerings for the industry setup as part of the ‘Banking Innovation Lounge’ at the event.

Feel free to follow the link and find more information about the event and view the conference agenda – http://www.bankinnovation-me.com/

– Brad Hariharan, Regional Director, Expotrade Middle East