Smart real estate for a smarter Dubai
Published by Middle East Construction News
Dubai is on a mission to become the world’s ‘smartest’ city by 2021 and its revolutionary smart city initiatives are leading to transformational changes in the way people live. In the recently published IMD Smart City Index 2019, Dubai ranked 45th globally, ahead of cities such as Seoul, Barcelona and Paris. Dubai’s evolution into a smart city is guided by a higher purpose of turning the city into the happiest place on earth, in line with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai’s vision. With the people’s happiness as the key performance indicator and the launch of over 100 smart initiatives and 1,000 smart government services, we are well on our way of achieving the objectives of the government’s Smart Dubai 2021 strategy.
The relationship between the evolution of Dubai as a smart city and its real estate sector is of a symbiotic kind. On the one hand, real estate developers need to aid the city’s transformation strategy by integrating smart technologies and data driven insights to design, construct and manage developments more efficiently. On the other hand, a smarter Dubai benefits its real estate sector through the efficient use of infrastructure, the high volume of rich data, a more engaged population, and its appeal to global investors. Consequently, Dubai’s real estate developers have started to embrace technology at a pace that was once alien to the industry. One of the leading luxury real estate developers, DAMAC Properties has been at the forefront of technology adoption in Dubai’s real estate sector and has championed a strategy that takes into account the future needs and aspirations of a smart and happy Dubai.
To use data to serve their customers better, DAMAC has migrated all of its customer data to Salesforce, an integrated CRM platform that enables the different functions within the organisation to view the customers more clearly. By incorporating strategic data insights into their approach to better connect with their residents and investors, the developer has introduced Hello DAMAC, a one-stop online, self-service platform that enables residents to access essential property-related services on the go.
On the supply side, DAMAC Properties has achieved 70%-time savings by integrating Building Information Modelling (BIM) in construction. BIM, which is an advanced 3D-model based process, gives designers, architects and construction professionals the information and tools to plan, design, build, and manage buildings more efficiently. By implementing a BIM strategy, DAMAC has also been able to control costs more effectively through better estimation and budgeting. Earlier this year, the developer, which is well known for its focus on workers’ safety, introduced Virtual Reality to train construction workers on critical safety procedures.
While technology is the great enabler of smart cities, at the heart of this transformation are people, their changing perceptions and aspirations. DAMAC’s upcoming 55-million square feet master-development, AKOYA, exemplifies the developer’s understanding of the evolving expectation of its customers who care for the environment and believe in sustainable living. Set in a green and secluded atmosphere, AKOYA offers an efficiently designed master plan and road network system with dedicated pathways for bicycles and hybrids.
While Dubai has come a long way in its smart city strategy, its ambitions for the future remain robust. While technology and evolving human aspirations are driving the current trends in smart city planning and execution, to ensure the sustainability of the smart city initiative and the digital transformation as a whole, we need a skilled workforce that can drive the future. By supporting Dubai Future Foundation’s One Million Arab Coders initiative, the Hussain Sajwani – DAMAC Foundation aims at empowering young Emiratis and Arabs with skills that are imperative for the future of work. The initiative will play a pivotal role in developing the capabilities of our future workforce, which, in turn, will contribute to the digital transformation of the UAE and other countries in the region.
Dubai is a model for Smart City Planning in the region and around the world. Behind its success across various verticals, are the wise leaders of the country, who have created an environment conducive for innovation. While encouraging private sector developers to adopt an innovative approach, the government also spearheads the digital transformation of the sector. In 2017, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) became the world’s first government entity to adopt blockchain technology. The department created a smart and secure database to record all real estate contracts and link them with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), telecommunications system, and various property-related bills. Earlier this year, DLD launched the Manzil initiative within the framework of a strategic partnership between public and private sectors to develop the real estate market of Dubai. Manzil features a calculator that provides residents with a list of properties based on various factors such as personal income, savings, location, and other considerations.
Supported by a model for smart governance, Dubai is working round the clock to transform itself into a city of the future. Incredible innovation in Information & Communication Technology (ICT) integration, a progressive government, and regulatory reforms are fuelling Dubai’s emergence as one of the smartest cities in the world.
By Niall McLoughlin