Another tipping point for the ME: 'smart' urban development
The Middle East is at a “tipping point” in its level of maturity and understanding of smart urban development, according to Atkins design director Matthew Tribe.
Addressing an audience of industry leaders at the Arab Future Cities summit in Doha, Qatar, this morning, Matthew told delegates that there is now ample evidence of international best practice being applied across the region and this is creating a blueprint for ongoing success.
“There are pockets of excellence in the region, notably in Dubai, where an integrated and holistic approach is embedded in the DNA of the authorities, the leading developers and their consultants,” he said. “This is driving some exceptional urban design which would stand shoulder to shoulder with anything across the world.
“We’re now seeing a strong appetite for world class urban development in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and it is approaching the right level of maturity for us to reach a crucial tipping point. As clients really start to appreciate the art of the possible, it will lead to raised expectations for consistently high levels of urban planning and design.”
Matthew told delegates that the key to developing truly smart urban environments in the Middle East is collaboration, holistic thinking and careful planning towards a shared goal. He explained that the questions which need to be asked at the outset of any urban development project are always the same, but the answers are always unique.
“Successful urban development should add value at every level - socially, economically, environmentally and contextually,” said Matthew. “These needs are not mutually exclusive - they work hand-in-hand to create places which really work.
“I’ve been advising clients in the Middle East for the past 10 years, but the understanding of what it takes to deliver great urban design is at an unprecedented level which is making for an incredibly exciting marketplace.”
Matthew said that the respective long terms visions of the countries of the GCC can provide the building blocks for smart urban environments.
“Doha, in particular, has a fantastic opportunity as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup to create a legacy which lives up to the Qatar National Vision,” he added. “By staying true to this vision, Doha can become a beacon for smart urban design.”