Gulf cities at 'tipping point' on smart urban design

Senior Atkins exec says Dubai is spurring 'appetite for world class urban development' across the Gulf region
Gulf cities at 'tipping point' on smart urban design
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 12 Apr 2014 10:23 AM

The Middle East is at a "tipping point" in its level of maturity and understanding of smart urban development, according to Atkins design director Matthew Tribe.

Addressing the Arab Future Cities summit in Doha, he said there is now ample evidence of international best practice being applied across the region and this is creating a blueprint for ongoing success.

"There are pockets of excellence in the region, notably in Dubai, where an integrated and holistic approach is embedded in the DNA of the authorities, the leading developers and their consultants," he said.

"This is driving some exceptional urban design which would stand shoulder to shoulder with anything across the world."

He added: "We're now seeing a strong appetite for world class urban development in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and it is approaching the right level of maturity for us to reach a crucial tipping point. As clients really start to appreciate the art of the possible, it will lead to raised expectations for consistently high levels of urban planning and design."

Tribe said the key to developing truly smart urban environments in the Middle East was collaboration, holistic thinking and careful planning towards a shared goal.

His comments follow those of Dr Ghassan Ziadat, Atkins' director of planning and infrastructure, who said last month that The high level of planning and investment in multi-modal transport infrastructure in major Middle East centres is enough to bring them close to terms with the world's most advanced cities within 15-20 years.

Tribe added: "I've been advising clients in the Middle East for the past 10 years, but the understanding of what it takes to deliver great urban design is at an unprecedented level which is making for an incredibly exciting marketplace.

"Doha, in particular, has a fantastic opportunity as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup to create a legacy which lives up to the Qatar National Vision. By staying true to this vision, Doha can become a beacon for smart urban design."

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