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11 Jan 2021

The Role of Real Estate in Sustainable Development

By Eng. Ahmed Alammadi, Chief Executive Officer, Diyar Al Muharraq

When we talk about sustainability, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is environmental sustainability. However, sustainability is a matter that goes beyond the environment itself, it is about adopting sustainable practices that could significantly influence the future for generations to come, the future of the planet, as well as the future of the economy and society as a whole.

With that being said, when it comes to the real estate industry and the role we play as real estate developers and master planners, sustainability is considered in every stage of the development. This consideration goes beyond the construction and the execution phases, in actual practice we carefully consider and deliberate over how to build a sustainable community that meets the needs of future generations in each project we tackle.

Taking into consideration the rising trends within urban development, various countries are starting to implement sustainable practices such as developing Ecological Districts or Eco-Districts. These trends have already become a priority for most modern urban developers and sustainable practices are increasingly being incorporated today as part of their overall aim of mitigating negative impacts on the environment, building stronger ties within local communities to form social sustainability, thereby positively contributing to the economy in the short and long term as well.

Similarly, in the Middle East, notable efforts are being made by many cities and projects towards incorporating sustainable development practices across various industries. These efforts have been heightened in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has acted as a catalyst for initiating open discussions in new topics that needed to be addressed, especially in the real estate industry where key dialogues to improve sustainability through ESG transparency placed implementing sustainable practices at the top of the agenda. The pandemic has also shifted how we work and live, and for the majority of places, people are still working or studying from home and self-isolating. For this reason, I believe that now is the perfect time to prioritize the incorporation of sustainable development principles of ‘Eco-Districts’ in the masterplans.

Ultimately, this will contribute to significantly reducing our carbon footprint, improving the quality of the environment which will lead to an improved quality of life for members of the community, naturally building stronger ties between people across societies.

Technology was another rising trend that COVID-19 gave rise to across multiple industries, the real estate sector is no exception; with various PropTech solutions already on the shelf this forced developers to start using these applications. Technology has affected not only buyers’ behavior but also influenced their decision-making process across the full product cycle. This is one of the trends that will continue to evolve, and we need to strive to advance our offerings and seize the endless opportunities to lead in the real estate industry.

At Diyar Al Muharraq we have focused our efforts on building an integrated city that meets the needs of people from all walks of life, making it the future hub for living, socializing and business. We need to continue to blend both technology and sustainable practices together and adopt a sustainable mindset, be it in using certain advancements such as solar power, or in how we approach urban planning and designing our communities. This affects how we plan to develop and redevelop projects and investing early on in building sustainable communities and infrastructures will help us cope with the constant shifts in development and climate change. I believe that as real estate developers we have a big role to play in the world and the way of living, our role determines the future outlook of this industry. As a real estate development company, we are continually considering the long-term effects of our actions and decisions on local society and have always realized the need to work closely with authorities and collaborate with key industries in order to build an ideal future and achieve the 2030 Economic Vision of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: where are we in our region with sustainable development? In Bahrain, I can say that developers and people are well aware and knowledgeable on the subject, this is reflected in the changes that are currently underway in terms of energy conservation, the adoption of smart building techniques and the use of sustainable materials in projects. Are we moving at the same pace as international practices? Perhaps not, but we are certainly on the right route.