Heads of top-tier, global architecture firms have all convened in Dubai to discuss the GCC countries planned development of 177 major construction and infrastructure programmes, costing in excess of US$1 trillion across the region. According to E.C. Harris, these governments would like to diversify their economies by increasing their tourism and business industries in order to decrease their reliance on oil and gas reserves. "Major programmes” are defined as construction programmes that cost more than US$1billion and need to be delivered in a relatively short period of time, the projects mentioned in the GCC will need to be completed by the year 2030.
These projects include a combination of leisure, real estate, retail, health and education asset developments as well as transport, communication and supporting social infrastructure systems and will have massive implications on the future of the economy as well as the image of the landscape. Due to the heavy human and material resources, as well time constraints required to undertake such enormous tasks, architects, government entities and developers made the decision to meet to discuss business opportunities, industry trends and to also explore the potential that the MENA region has to offer during the "Leaders in Architecture MENA ” summit. The event, attracts the top 150 international architecture firms and provided a platform for a wide range of architectural, business, as well some controversial, discussions to flourish.
"It gives some of the senior people in the design professions the opportunity to actually interact more with each other and look at their mutual interests and look at how they as a group can contribute to the development of the region,” said Michael Fowler, the Managing Director M.E. of Aedas. When asked about his thoughts on the region, Yausif Albaker, Principal of Albaker Architects said: "I think nowhere in the world would you have an opportunity as an architect, I would say, to work on projects that you would in the Middle East and deal with issues that are very unique to this specific location.” "Leaders in Architecture MENA” was organised to address issues that might hinder the progress of these 1$ Trillion Mega projects, in the MENA region, by forecasting foreseeable challenges and finding solutions to optimize building/design methods, as well encourage new innovations and business partnerships.