The DesignMENA Summit proved to be a success, with industry professionals coming in from the entire Middle East. Speakers, debates and workshops created a spectrum of platforms for such professionals to engage, network and discuss leading topics like environmental design, 3D printing, client management, smart lighting and many more.
In addition to the long talks and case studies held at the event, those attending were asked to participate in a survey that questioned the effects of Expo 2020 on Dubai’s interior and architectural landscape. The topic of the survey coincided with the last workshop of the day.
Bart Leclercq, head of structures and design at WSP Middle East, lead the architects’ workshop and discussed how the winning of Dubai Expo 2020 will undoubtedly put Dubai and real estate projects into a tailspin.
Expo 2020, which dates back to 1851, has lead to a number of global landmarks, forever remembered in history books and cultural and social narratives, like the Eiffel Tower and Chicago’s Ferris Wheel.
According to Leclercq, Dubai is expecting 25 million visitors, 70% of which are predicted to be international. This sudden boom in tourism will call for nearly 250 new hotels to go into construction.
Of those who answered the survey, 91% agreed that Expo 2020 will push for more innovation in the region’s design industry. Summit goer Mohammed Faqruddin Amer, technical manager, Sun Engineering & Contracting Co. explained: “The new projects will definitely influence the architectural landscape of Dubai in terms of new innovations [and] technology, [engrained] with the rich and varied cultural heritage of different aspects of life, creating world class monuments and benchmarks for the world to envy.”
Additionally, 94% of the survey participants agreed that the UAE’s pavilion would likely create a new landmark for the city; however, only 65% believed that the influx of new projects would positively influence Dubai’s architectural landscape.
One participant commented: “In Dubai, they all like to make buildings that are iconic, different and special. So I do not know if [the influence] will be better or worse, but it will certainly be different.”
Another anonymous participant noted: “I believe Dubai is already a mixture of a modern, traditional and state-of-the-art buildings, so nothing will change. All will be added to the existing platform.”
While many continue to debate the potential effects of Expo 2020 on design, 77% agree that the Expo will result in increased competition from outside designers and architects.
Gurminder Sagoo, WSP, said: “Interior design is going to be really big, there’s no doubt about it. It could be in a year and a half, but it’s going to happen. So, maybe we need to look outside to see who’s coming in.”