More must be done to provide for people on lower wages in Dubai in the form of housing and amenities if the city is not to be regarded globally as just a playground for the rich according to a leading building designer.
National Engineering Bureau principle design architect Issam Ezzeddine, called on greater connectivity in masterplanning and more backing for public housing and community events.
His company – which is responsible for much of the development of Dubai Marina – has committed itself to affordable residential developments with CEO Jamil Jadallah stating: “Dubai has its share of people at the high end of the earning field but it also has its drivers, security personnel and workers in leisure and retail. They all need somewhere to live and this needs to be affordable in relation to their income.”
Ezzeddine expanded on the company’s standpoint while taking part in the UAE Infrastructure Summit.
“It’s about changing the perspective of Dubai,” he said. “At present it is viewed as a place for rich people – for tourists to come and shop. But what about those on the lower incomes, the labourers, those in the service industries? Even teachers – they are not on high wages. They cannot all go out and shop.”
Ezzedine said these people – vital to the running of any society – must be taken more into consideration when projects are being discussed.
“These people are just living – they are not saving, they are not going out and spending,” he said.
“In fact – they are not enjoying life.”
The answer, according to the architect, is to create more public facilities.
“Places for recreation need to be far more prevalent,” said Ezzeddine. “And it’s not just about parks. Towns squares, where people can gather, with low cost theatres would be a solution. And public amphitheatres. The Municipality could focus on providing some entertainment which is available to all.”
Affordable homes are also a factor which must be taken into consideration when new projects are undertaken, he said.
“We need to build communities where rent values are linked with wages,” said Ezzeddine. “If you earn 15,000 dirhams a month you need to have somewhere to live which allows you to have some spare money – to save or to spend, which means you are putting something back into the economy so everyone benefits.
Public transport in another factor which must be included in planning, said Ezzeddine.
“Any individual project must take into account the infrastructure,” he said. “It’s like the stomach and the heart – if they are not properly connected the body will refuse to work. Roads, bus provision and metro connectivity they must all be taken into account when buildings are being proposed. A policy could be put in place which states that developers cannot start work until the infrastructure has been put in place.
“We all love Dubai, so we must make sure it is not a place which caters only to the rich.”