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Fri 12 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Taking stock

For a long time, it seemed as if nothing could touch the fast-paced progress of the region's landscaping and outdoor design industry.

For a long time, it seemed as if nothing could touch the fast-paced progress of the region's landscaping and outdoor design industry.

The events of the last few weeks, however, have shown that something could.

But what are we to understand by the tremors of the global economic crisis reaching the Gulf? Does this signify the start of a period of cutbacks and belt tightening? Or is it merely a blip on an otherwise cloud-free horizon?

What is certain is that there will be some impact. But just how much the turmoil will affect the region's construction and design industry and specifically the outdoor design sector remains to be seen.

The word on the street is that projects are being scaled back rather than cancelled, suspended rather than spiked, but much of this is, of course, speculation.

The worst case scenario perhaps is that projects are abandoned halfway through leading potentially to lay-offs and months chasing payment; while perhaps the best case scenario is that designs drawn and delivered simply end up not being used.

But of course, it may not all be bad news. Some in the industry believe that the downturn could be good thing, causing developers to slow their hurried tracks, leading to more considered development and consequently design in the long term.

The downturn is also likely to prove a boon for the region's recruitment troubles as more quality candidates seek to relocate to the Middle East. Increased competition between contractors and suppliers as the result of new entrants on the market should also drive up standards in the region.

At a time when so much is uncertain, there is only one thing we know for sure: caution, it seems, is the order of the day.

Michele Howe is the editor of Commercial Outdoor Design.

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Johan Badenhorst 11 years ago

It is unfortuanate that the top salary earners are unfortuanatly the first heads to roll in the industry , leaving the already underpaid and exploited members of companies in charge of projects. These are unfortuanatly the people with limited experience in the industry - it will however be quite interesting to see how long these companies will last , as these guys will learn the hard way , as many of us in the Old School have already learnt these very hard lessons . Good luck to them in the world of high finance UAE landscaping projects , where the hidden costs are company-eaters.