From small acorns...

It is often said that the eyes of the world are on Dubai as it fast-tracks its evolution from desert town to global city. The potential of this is not to be underestimated.

COMMENT, Design

It is often said that the eyes of the world are on Dubai as it fast-tracks its evolution from desert town to global city. The potential of this is not to be underestimated.

While it is true that for urban design and landscape firms there is plenty of work to go around, competition between companies for the top-tier contracts is keener than ever.

Winning high profile contracts such as Atlantis - featured in Commercial Outdoor Design this month - not only generates publicity locally, but also brings firms to the attention of the global marketplace, accelerating any international expansion plans a company may have.

Take Dubai-based interior contractor DEPA, for instance. The firm reported a 75% rise in first half profit this month to US$15 million, having garnered overseas contracts after doing the fit-out of the Burj Al Arab - proof that big name regional projects can act as a springboard not just for regional success, but global growth too.

Of course, winning those high profile contacts isn't easy, with international design firms also vying for their slice of the UAE pie. The design for Atlantis, for example, was done by EDSA, which is based in the US.

With so many new projects in sight, regionally based firms would be justified in feeling tempted to simply ride the development boom, safe in the knowledge that unlike some of their European counterparts they don't have to worry about where the next contract is coming from.

Ambitious companies will pick their projects with care, however, aware that the work they do today will sow the seeds for their successes of tomorrow.

Michele Howe is the editor of Commercial Outdoor Design.

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