Urban Design & Landscaping Summit in Dubai Focuses on Green, Livable Cities

A dedication to happier citizens in the GCC

Urban Design & Landscaping Expo

Going green is seemingly becoming less of a fad and more of a habit, with high-level summits like this year’s first Urban Design & Landscaping Summit aiming for the ultimate goal of “Promoting greener, healthier and more sustainable built environments with best practices in urban design and landscaping”. This particular summit is taking place as a part of the Urban Design & Landscaping Expo (UDLE), which is a new event dedicated to growing in outdoor, public spaces. Taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre, this summit will ultimately bring together landscape architects, municipalities, urban designers, property developers, parks and resorts, so that they may focus on overcoming obstacles to a greener, urban region.

“There is a major focus on growing the region’s outdoor spaces to make them habitable during the hotter summer months. Well-designed, interconnected urban areas are transforming previously arid areas into breathable and walkable environments, all year round. The lively discussion and impassioned presentations experienced during the inaugural Urban Design & Landscaping Summit are a reflection of the growing opportunities within urban greening and landscaping both within the public and private sectors.”
- Portfolio Director, Josine Heijmans

One of the major topics of discussion at today’s Summit was the link between the development of the public realm and the happiness of citizens. According to Ceylan Belek Ombregt, Director at Martha Schwartz Partners, mixed-use design that promotes diversity of spaces with programmes responding to specific needs of the people is a major driver for happiness.

“Being close to nature and other living beings is important to people. Therefore, urban design should provide habitats for faunas and floras, preserving diversity in our living environments. Another key element for urban design as a drive for happiness is to create spaces with well thought patterns. This means repetition of certain elements such as streets. Continuity and alternation of these formal elements between architecture and landscape would allow recognizable spaces to be formed,” she added.

Initiatives taken up by local government bodies in the GCC were in the spotlight during the first interactive panel session of the day. The audience heard from a line-up of high level speakers including Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Al Ain Municipality and Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, among others.

Attendees were given an overview of the major landscaping projects and public parks in the GCC, as well as insights into the needs of the community, how to design for the harsh regional environment, and how to increase the focus on agricultural production locally through innovative pilot projects.

Val Zillig, Urban Planning Advisor, Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC), said, “The Gulf region has reached a number of economic milestones, and this is primarily attributed to the on-going developments and initiatives made by a number of authorities and councils in the region dedicated to comprehensive urban planning.”

Speaking about the panel session, he added, “The panel session was one of the most important platforms to address the integration of urban planning public realm practices with the on-going climate change and environmental challenges, since this issue is one of the most vital factors for the future generations and development of green environment. The Emirate of Sharjah, as well as SUPC, is a world leader who are ensuring careful infrastructural and public realm projects are being developed with respect to the environment, and reinforced with technologies and services which are eco-friendly.”

Sustainability was another key principle discussed during the second interactive panel session of the day, which centered on the integration of sustainability principles in urban design and the growing need for Green Urbanism in the region.

“The fact that cities will house over 75% of the world’s population and people need green appearance in order to achieve a better balance in life and performance, mean that the green business overall is just at the beginning of a new era in landscaping. In the Middle East and its rapidly growing cities, business and new industry developments will need to invest in green as an asset for keeping workers satisfied and inviting new creative and capable workers who will add value to the future of the Middle East.”
- Robert van Aerts, Founder and Managing Director of NextGen Living Walls

Other key speakers featured during the Summit include; Hamda Ahmed Lootah, Head of Creativity & Innovation Office at Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA); and Maarten Buijs, Commercial Director- Landscape Architecture, ASPECT Studios – Australia, to name a few.

Organised by dmg events, the Urban Design & Landscaping Expo (UDLE) will continue as part of The Big 5, the Middle East’s largest construction show, and co-located with the HVACR Expo, The Big 5 Solar, Middle East Concrete and The Big 5 Heavy.

The event is supported by the Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority (SEWA) and Fujairah Municipality. Also, it enjoys the partnership of Jain Irrigation System LTD (Irrigation Partner), Lumo (Lighting Partner), Pearl Garden Landscape & Irrigation Services LLC (Horticulture Partner), ASPECT Studios (Design Partner), and Cracknell (Design Partner).

Organised by dmg events, the Urban Design & Landscaping Expo runs as part of The Big 5 from 26 to 29 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

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