GCC property trends reshaping landscape management

fmME reviews government landscaping investments in the UAE, and how private sector firms must develop specialised landscape management programmes

Trump International Golf Club Dubai at Damac Hills.
Trump International Golf Club Dubai at Damac Hills.

The UAE’s landscaping sector is witnessing increased growth as government bodies recognise the significance of maintenance and upkeep programmes for their natural facilities, most notable among which are parks.

In October 2016, local daily Khaleej Times reported that the Abu Dhabi City Municipality (ADM) is spending $23.6m (AED87m) on development and upgradation schemes to maintain its parks and recreational facilities.

Last July, it was also announced that the emirate’s Sheikha Fatima Park, formerly known as Khalidiya Ladies Park, was set to undergo renovation works under a $25.5m (AED94m) programme to be carried out by ADM’s department of municipal affairs and transport.

Rehabilitation works for the Sheikha Fatima Park include the implementation of services such as surface parking spaces, car park facades, basement parking, bathrooms, and a mosque. Work for the programme, which started in June 2016, is slated for completion in July 2018.

Indeed, a significant share of landscaping work underway in the UAE is being implemented on public projects. This January, landscaping contractor Akar announced it has completed work on the $3.8m (AED14m) Al Wadi Park project in the Hatta district of Dubai.

Launched in Q4 2015, the 2.8ha site will welcome visitors this month, and features play and climbing equipment for children; a shaded parking lot with solar panels to increase power efficiency; and an 820m gabion wall to protect against storm surges.

The park also features more than 900 trees, waterbeds filled with rolling stones of varying sizes, barbecue pits with sheltered picnic tables, grassy lawns, a 1000m jogging track, and shaded pergolas. Rajaram Subedi, director of landscaping at Akar, attributed Al Wadi Park’s completion to the company’s portfolio of similar work carried out in the UAE and Oman.

“Despite the complex design, our integrated engineering solutions and dedication of our talented workforce helped in timely delivery, taking into account every specification and goal of the client,” Subedi added.

Nevertheless, among the Middle East’s busiest landscaping teams is Damac’s, which oversees the recently inaugurated Trump International Golf Club Dubai at Damac Hills. A second golf course is also being developed at Akoya Oxygen, slated to open in 2018.

Andrew Whitelaw, general manager of Trump International Golf Club Dubai, outlines the team’s maintenance programme for the facility: “The main components of our golf course maintenance plan are soil tests, water quality, and the golf calendar.

“The key is to ensure these are in balance within the soil profile to create a good growing environment for turf grass.

“We have annual, monthly, and weekly plans that are all interlinked to provide the level of conditions expected,” Whitelaw tells fmME.

Damac manages the facility’s golf course and landscape, while lake management is outsourced to a company that was selected based on its experience of managing “a large percentage of golf courses and other water bodies in the GCC”.

He adds: “The golf pump station will also be outsourced once it is out of the warranty period.

“Water quality is the single biggest challenge of managing a golf course in the region, and balancing the chemistry within the soil to create a good growing environment is crucial to providing the very best playing surfaces.”

Clearly, the region’s private sector companies are increasingly gaining awareness about the benefits of professional landscaping management, and companies are now keen to partake in landscaping operations considering the value they offer to existing clients.

In October 2016, KEO International Consultants announced the establishment of InSite, an urban planning and landscape design practice headquartered in the UAE, with regional offices serving seven regional countries. Given the upward trajectory of the Middle East’s property segment, it is likely that more companies will diversify similarly.

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