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Dubai’s shift towards sustainable approaches can unearth new opportunities for media professionals

While World Expo 2020 will be associated with some of the massive multibillion dollar real estate and hospitality projects, Smart City is determined to design and implement cutting edge technology solutions to plan and manage the day to day activities of the Emirate.

Hence, it is significant that massive growth and development initiative in Dubai should be backed with a philosophy of sustainability, which can ensure wellbeing of the residents and communities without compromising on growth objectives. This brings us to the third important dimension, which connotes to integrate sustainability with the existing projects and for the same reason, we @ Research Konnection thought to analyze the present growth and development with a perspective of long term sustainability in Dubai.

Similar to World Expo 2020 and Smart City projects, sustainability is an evolving philosophy that advocates on long term maintenance of residential and commercial properties, streets and roadway lighting, parks and community facilities, city landscape and pedestrian and bicycle pathways etc in Dubai.

The present drive for sustainability in the emirate also needs to be viewed in alignment with the two other major themes; World Expo 2020 and Smart City Plan. World Expo 2020 with its theme line “Connecting the Mind and Creating the Future” will be based on three pillars namely; sustainability of water and energy resources, mobility of smart systems of logistics and transportation and devising new opportunities of economic development. Similarly, Smart City is aimed at lesser congestion of traffic, reduction of paper usage, emphasize on alternative energy such as solar energy and devise innovative and eco-friendly technology solutions, which can result into better utilization of existing resources.

In the light of above discussed initiatives, Dubai has also adopted LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which was stipulated in 2008 and involved a set of design and construction compliances ensuring more eco-friendly steps. In initial years the scope of enforcement was restricted to government buildings. However, from 2014 onwards it will be made mandatory to all the buildings in the emirate.

On similar lines, Dubai is developing AED 120 billion (USD 32.7 billion), solar project named Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park, which once completed will generate a 24 million Kilowatts of power per year. The massive project will be completed in numerous phases and is integral to Dubai’s long term objective of ensuring a balanced energy mix comprising of 5 percent solar, 12 percent nuclear, 12 percent clean coal and 71 percent natural gas. Collectively, the initiative will allow Dubai Government to reduce CO2 emission by 15,000 tons annually.

Likewise, there are numerous other initiatives, which are taking shape. One of them being, the “Sustainable City”, which is AED 1 billion (USD 272 million) project located near the Arabian Ranches and is expected to be complete by 2015. The mixed use project with residential and retail space will allocate 53 percent space for organic farming and innovative solar cells installed above the parking space, intended for generating electricity for fulfilling the needs of the city. Industry experts from the real estate believe that it can act as one of the model mixed use development in the GCC region. Besides, contributing towards environmental sustainability, it can also offer economic value; as residential units based on solar energy can offer an annual economic value of near around AED 30,000 (over USD 8,000) to residents due to power saving and lesser maintenance cost.

Another initiative in this regard is the “Urban Agenda 2020” a two day conference on sustainable growth, which was held in DWTC on 31st March-1st April. Believed to be a unique platform for key decision makers coming from public and private sector to discuss and evaluate possibilities for sustainable development, the recently concluded event has emphasized on doubling the green space in Dubai and develop affordable housing. Development of affordable housing can dissuade residents from shifting other emirates such as Sharjah and Ajman, thereby reducing the traffic congestion.

Based on our discussions with real estate industry experts; mentioned below are some of the key trends, which should influence the future growth of Dubai.

1. There will be a paradigm shift towards greener technologies such as solar power in the emirate to reduce carbon foot print and manage energy resources.

2. There could be lot of more regulations, up to the Expo 2020 wherein Dubai Government will strive to adopt Sustainable frameworks in the pre-construction phases.

3. There will be more public-private partnership to seek investments to fund sustainable project and this will ensure a relatively larger role for the private sector in the emirate. In addition, there will be emphasis on mixed use property development which can focus on developing more green spaces along with affordable housing.

Reflections

The drive towards sustainability will also unearth new entrepreneurial and business opportunities in the emirate. Firstly, there will be lot of new opportunities in the areas pertaining to green buildings and technologies. Secondly, as the present understanding in emirate is still limited in the context of sustainable development, there should be tremendous scope for external consultants, education and training institutes. As the idea is relatively new, it will influence the government to employ powerful communication programs to teach residents about significance of sustainability, thereby also generating opportunities for green energy and climate focused marketing communication professionals and companies.

Likewise, the use of communication should result in heightened awareness, which in the mid-long term can shift the customer inclination towards greener building and non-renewable energy along with organic food and non-food items and fair trade certified foods. There can also be ample opportunities in areas such as horticulture due to going green drive.

Nevertheless, the drive towards sustainability is not insulated from challenges. Some of the challenges might include; a perceived higher investment (which is often not true) among private players and property buyers and lack of awareness towards such measures. However, our finding indicates that establishment and residents in general are optimistic towards such initiatives and hence that can work in favour of Dubai to counterbalance the bottlenecks.