Sustainability and housing for all take centre stage

The rapid growth in the international workforce has resulted in a 50 per cent population increase in Abu Dhabi in the past five years, creating greater demand for more affordable recidential options in the capital. However, while demand has now become fiercer than ever, some industry observers claim the sustainability of building good-quality housing across all price points is still under debate.

Affordable housing will be one of many topics to be discussed at the Market Overview Forum, taking place on the first day of Cityscape Abu Dhabi, which will run from April 21-23 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. The forum, or ganised in collaboration with JLL and supported by Mas-dar City, will focus on the emirate’s latest trends and initiatives, while a dedicated panel discussion will tackle how supporting differentiation can assure the market continues to grow at a sustainable rate.

“End user demand for housing has principally been driven by new job creation as the government continues to invest in major infrastructure and economic diversification projects,” said David Dudley, Regional Director of JLL and headline speaker at the forum, where JLL will also reveal the performance of each real estate sector for the first quarter. “We do, however, expect there to be a reduction in government spending this year due to the recent decline in oil prices, which will slow down the annual demand growth rate. Employment creation and residential demand growth will be sustained from projects commenced while the oil price was high, albeit at a slower pace.”

Rental growth will still continue at single-digit rate, given the current shortage of affordable housing, he said.

Anthony Mallows, Director of Masdar City and a panellist at the discussion, will talk about the impact of sustainability on cost. “For a long time, building sus-tainably was prohibitively costly, particularly in the GCC where there was a short supply of low-carbon, sustainable building materials,” said Mallows. “Now, architects, developers, investors and urban planners have access to better resources, new technological advances and support from the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.”

Talal Al Dhiyebi, Chief Development Officer of Al-dar Properties, another panellist at the forum, will discuss Abu Dhabi’s appeal as a key hub for global investment. “The government’s successful diversification strategy has created a strong, stable environment for investment,” Dhiyebi said.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahy-an, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the event will host more than 130 exhibitors from around the world.