Frank Thoughts

Tareq Abu-Sukheila
Managing director, Gensler
Dubai’s development began and ended with the intent to serve a commercial purpose – offices, retail establishments, hospitality projects and transportation networks. This jump started the economy and led to Dubai’s development in a really short time frame.

Many developers and property owners approached their projects with certain pre-conceived notions of what they wanted as a finished product ‘look’.

This highly influenced client expectations and there was a great deal of focus on the external aspects in the designs produced during that period of rapid expansion. Designers in many cases were just trying to give their interpretation of what the client envisioned instead of taking a more holistic approach and designing for user experience.

Furthermore, the influx of designers to meet the huge project demand was unprecedented and many of the designers worked with limited context and little first hand understanding of the local culture and historical architecture. In addition, most of them did not know about the city’s future outlook or urban needs, and hence designed buildings from a blank slate which has resulted in what we have today.

There could definitely have been more balance between the design consultants and developers to go beyond the architecture that was achieved, but as the cliché with design goes, there’s always room for improvement.”

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