CW 2015 UAE Infra Conf: Hoi Polloi
Dubai is a city that houses people with huge discrepancies in earning power
Dubai is a city that houses people with huge discrepancies in earning power, and its built environment should do more to reflect that, says NEB’s Issam Ezzedine
More must be done to provide for people on lower wages in Dubai in the form of housing and amenities if the city is to be seen as something other than just a playground for the rich, according to a leading building designer.
National Engineering Bureau’s principal design architect, Issam Ezzedine, called for greater connectivity when masterplanning projects and for more backing for public housing and community schemes.
His company, which has been responsible for the development of much of Dubai Marina, has committed itself to affordable residential developments, with CEO Jamil Jadallah stating: “Dubai has its share of people at the high end of the earning field, but it also has its drivers, security personnel and workers in leisure and retail. They all need somewhere to live and this needs to be affordable in relation to their income.”
Ezzedine expanded on his firm’s viewpoint while taking part in the UAE Infrastructure Summit.
“It’s about changing the perspective of Dubai,” he said. “At present, it is viewed as a place for rich people – for tourists to come and shop. But what about those on the lower incomes, the labourers, those in the service industries? Even teachers – they are not on high wages. They cannot all go out and shop.”
Ezzedine said more consideration must be given to these people when projects are built, as they are vital to the running of any economy or society.
“These people are just living – they are not saving, they are not going out and spending,” he said. One answer, he argued, would be to create more public facilities.
“Places for recreation need to be far more prevalent,” said Ezzedine. “And it’s not just about parks. Town squares, where people can gather, with low-cost theatres, would be a solution. And public amphitheatres. The Municipality could focus on providing some entertainment that is available to all.”
Affordable homes must also be taken into consideration when new projects are undertaken, he said.
“We need to build communities where rent values are linked with wages,” said Ezzedine. “If you earn AED15,000 ($4,080) a month, you need to have somewhere to live that allows you to have some spare money – to save or to spend, which means you are putting something back into the economy.”
Public transport is another factor that must be included in planning, said Ezzedine.
“Roads, bus provision and metro connectivity must all be taken into account when buildings are being proposed. A policy could be put in place that states that developers cannot start work until the infrastructure has been put in place.
“We all love Dubai, so we must make sure it is not a place that caters only to the rich.”