Firms can't ignore affordable housing, says Miller

Shapoorji Pallonji hire uses Qatar event podium to tackle developers

Barwa City Grand Mosque, Qatar, designed and under construction by Shapoorji Pallonji
Barwa City Grand Mosque, Qatar, designed and under construction by Shapoorji Pallonji

Steven Miller and Mohan Das Saini, his new colleague and CEO at Shapoorji Pallonj, have rounded on developers for focusing solely on the luxury market and ignoring the need for affordable housing in the region.

In an address by the architect at the Qatar Projects conference, and as the new senior VP of business development at the firm, Miller called for developers and regional governments to look at integrating the master planning of sustainable communities into their long-term plans.

He said: “Most private developers still only want to look at the five-star villa and luxury apartment market, but with Gulf countries like Qatar undergoing a dramatic transformation as they move towards their respective 2030 visions, the current social infrastructure is simply not acceptable.

“Ongoing government support is a vital catalyst in extending co-operation between public bodies and free enterprise to create communities that can accommodate broad social strata.”

Shapoorji Pallonji is currently working on a number of social infrastructure-focused projects within Qatar, and is aiming to set a benchmark for business development in the affordable housing and community arena.

The Mumbai-based firm was most recently appointed by the Dubai Properties Group as the principal contractor for the revived Mudon residential community in Dubailand.

In Qatar, on the back of a project background spread across South Asia and West Africa to the MENA region, the firm is currently involved in developing mosques, schools, community and sports facilities, including a $185m contract for the phase one amenities of Barwa City, secured in 2010.

Miller commented: “Because we have worked on similar projects on different continents, we have a thorough understanding of the specific needs and customs of different countries. Socially acceptable housing is something that needs to be tailored for each country.”

Mohan Das Saini also noted that as well as Qatar and the UAE, which both have a significant expatriate population, affordable housing is becoming a top issue in countries from Algeria and Iraq through to Libya and Saudi Arabia.

He added: “We’re not just talking labourer accommodation either. Well-designed and well cared-for accommodation is equally important for the middle class semi-professional and professional families who need cost-effective accommodation solutions as the cost of living in the region continues to rise.”


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