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BDP upbeat following merger

European firm to focus on housing and schools in MENA drive

Gary Dicken of BDP.
Gary Dicken of BDP.

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European architecture firm BDP will target housing and education projects in the Middle East following their merger with locally-based firm Syna.

Nadine Nackasha and Gary Dicken, who will head up BDP’s new Abu Dhabi office, told Middle East Architect that demand for housing in the MENA region was increasing every year, presenting a massive opportunity for architects and designers.

“Housing is a critical issue throughout the region. Everywhere needs housing and these luxury developments only cater to a tiny percentage of the population,” said Nackasha, whose company, Syna, merged with BDP.

She said that affordable housing was becoming a focus for governments in the region, as demonstrated by the Abu Dhabi 2030 framework, which includes plans for thousands of homes in the emirate.

BDP also plans to focus on education facilities in the Gulf, following news that Abu Dhabi will force privately-run villa schools in the emirate to close by 2010, leaving thousands of expatriate students fighting for limited school places. The emirate has set its sights on increasing the population to three million by 2030, which will only increase demand further.

“There is undoubtedly a problem with a lack of schools, it is difficult to find a place for children and expatriates are continuing to stream in to the region,” Nackasha said.

Dicken added that BDP’s emphasis on designing schools in the UK made it a prime candidate for projects here.

“We would like to participate. In the UK schools account for 40% of our turnover and we’re hoping to transfer what we have learned there to Abu Dhabi,” he said.

In broader terms, both feel that opportunities in the region will only increase, and were keen to stress that they were in the region for the long term.

”In terms of infrastructure you’re looking at Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates. In terms of hospitality there’s not so much room for that in the UAE, but if you look further afield there have been inquiries about potential projects,” Nackasha said.


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