OP-ED

Mo­ham­mad Bin Zaal, CEO of KOA thinks it’s the right time to cu­rate new liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Dubai

Design Middle East - - Contents -

Mo­ham­mad Bin Zaal, CEO of KOA, em­pha­sise on cu­rated com­mu­ni­ties

In such a di­verse and rapidly de­vel­op­ing re­gion, the next gen­er­a­tion of res­i­dents have new de­sires and spe­cific vi­sions for their liv­ing en­vi­ron­ments. De­vel­op­ers need to think out of the box and move for­ward to align with the di­verse au­di­ences.

De­vel­op­ments are of­ten looked at as sin­gle units rather than cre­at­ing a thriv­ing com­mu­nity, we need to move with the times to dis­tin­guish, di­ver­sify, and cu­rate new liv­ing com­mu­ni­ties in Dubai. The idea is sim­ple, to look and lis­ten to the mar­ket, it’s been a cookie cut­ter ap­proach for far too long. The dom­i­nant model for real es­tate in Dubai has been an in­side–out ap­proach. De­vel­op­ers dic­tate what res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties should look and feel like based on their economies of scale, their pre­con­ceived ideas. Peo­ple

are of­ten forced to com­pro­mise on their ideal liv­ing sit­u­a­tion be­cause there are sim­ply no other op­tions avail­able to them. We have a very dif­fer­ent ap­proach, my­self and the team look to the end con­sumers – what are their needs, their as­pi­ra­tions, the gaps in the mar­ket - and de­velop the brand, and our de­vel­op­ments, on those find­ings. We build in direct re­sponse to con­sumer feed­back rather than try­ing to use an out­dated model that has no depth or con­sumer knowl­edge be­hind it.

Dubai’s mar­ket

Dubai is ac­tively work­ing to nur­ture en­trepreneurs and young cre­ative peo­ple – it would be fool­ish to ig­nore these new tal­ents and new com­mu­ni­ties that are cul­mi­nat­ing within the re­gion. In­cu­ba­tors of young, raw tal­ent are pop­ping up over the city and are driv­ing new vi­sions and a new mind-set to the fore­front and this needs to be catered to with new liv­ing and work­ing so­lu­tions. When we look at gen­er­a­tion X in this mar­ket, this is a key tar­get for us. Gen­er­a­tion X in Dubai is well into their ca­reers, ready to take the next step and set­tle in Dubai but they have not been catered to with the cur­rent real es­tate of­fer­ing. This is a co­hort of peo­ple who are well-trav­elled, highly in­di­vid­ual and de­mand­ing – they don’t want to com­pro­mise on what is po­ten­tially their big­gest in­vest­ment. These are the peo­ple we want to res­onate with. There are so many pos­si­bil­i­ties when you bring cre­ative minds to­gether in the right en­vi­ron­ment within Dubai. It’s key to cu­rate places for cre­ation, col­lab­o­ra­tion, ed­u­ca­tion, and mean­ing­ful net­work­ing for both in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses.

There is a huge gap in this mar­ket to re­flect the tal­ent and vi­sion of this city.

De­sign and en­vi­ron­ment

Our en­vi­ron­ment im­pacts our mind-set – the places you work and live can de­ter­mine a per­son’s mood and ul­ti­mately the re­sults we pro­duce in our per­sonal and work life. An­other el­e­ment of the evo­lu­tion that is needed in prop­erty devel­op­ment in Dubai is the metic­u­lous de­tail be­hind the de­sign and aes­thetic of a com­mu­nity. The idea of a truly bou­tique devel­op­ment, where the fo­cus is on qual­ity and crafts­man­ship over quan­tity, is some­thing very new for real es­tate de­vel­op­ments in the city, but again it’s some­thing that is seen more of­ten in other in­dus­tries.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing to think a place that we de­velop can gen­uinely have an im­pact on a per­son’s day, en­hanc­ing hu­man ex­pe­ri­ences through de­sign. It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to cu­rate liv­ing spa­ces where peo­ple thrive whilst keep­ing it's rel­e­vancy for years to come.

In­ter­na­tional move­ments

In other mar­kets around the world, cu­rated spa­ces have been de­vel­op­ing and launch­ing over the past few years. Cities such as An­twerp, New York, Lon­don, and more have seen great suc­cesses in this field. There is a huge gap in this mar­ket to re­flect the tal­ent and vi­sion of this city. Not only can we see what has and hasn’t worked in­ter­na­tion­ally, we have such a rich pool of vary­ing cul­tures and na­tion­al­i­ties that we can only ex­cel in re­spond­ing to this through our work in de­sign and devel­op­ment. It’s been clear to me for a while that Dubai has to play catch up with what is hap­pen­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally and to cap­ti­vate newer au­di­ences to give more in­di­vid­u­al­ity and sub­stance. Play­ing it safe and stick­ing to what we know shouldn’t be an op­tion in a vi­brant city like ours. We need to en­sure Dubai be­comes a hub that is ac­knowl­edged as in­line with and push­ing for­ward global move­ments.

To truly cu­rate a thriv­ing com­mu­nity, not just a devel­op­ment, the ap­proach has to be to lis­ten and learn from the mar­ket and caters to their needs. This is how we at KOA grow but also how I be­lieve this re­gion will con­tinue to grow.

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