Home » Cityscape Qatar, the real estate landscape and sustainability progress

Cityscape Qatar, the real estate landscape and sustainability progress

by Madaline Dunn

The 11th edition of Cityscape Qatar 2023 took place at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, bringing together over 5,000 attendees, 90 plus property developers and featuring over 40 speakers. 

Held from 24-26 October, the event laid out the real estate roadmap toward 2030, with a reflection on both the past and future state of the industry. 

ESG Mena takes a look at some of the event highlights, how regional real estate is evolving, and the progress being made on sustainability in Qatar and beyond. 

Real estate boom

With surging population growth and rapid urbanisation, global building stock is set to double by 2050, and investment in the global real estate industry is set to reach over $30.5 trillion by 2031.

Regionally, real estate has been a particular investment focus as of late, with a wave of mega projects, and in Qatar, real estate is one of the fastest-growing sectors, ranking second just after energy in terms of investment. Recent figures, for example, reveal that Qatar’s real estate investments now exceed QAR82 billion. 

The current state of the market was a primary focus in a number of talks as part of Cityscape Talks Qatar, where industry leaders discussed the trends and challenges facing the sector right now. 

From discussing the role of innovation in shaping the sector’s future to forecasts around what Qatar will look like in the next ten years, the event was both a platform for knowledge sharing and networking, while also showcasing key development projects. 

Event highlights 

With this year’s event taking place in the shadow of FIFA World Cup 2022, the event took stock of the impact the event had on Qatar real estate. Indeed, after hosting the international event, which saw an investment of billions, Qatar officials shared investment plans for further diversification as part of Vision 2030, with infrastructure and real estate investment a big part of this. 

Elsewhere at the event was a fireside chat on the potentially transformative impact of digital technology on real estate, with Hakan Ozdemir, CEO, Siemens Qatar, Abdullatif Ali Al-Yafei, Executive Director Public Services, United Development Company and Nizar Hneini, Technology & Digital Partner, Advisory KPMG Qatar, coming together to share their insights. 

Other topics explored across the three-day event included real estate financing and mortgage, investment in urban planning, infrastructure, and mobility and the role of regulation, policy, and frameworks.

For the first time, the event also featured a discussion panel by the Cityscape WIRE (Women in Real Estate) and a networking session. 

The panel, moderated by Billie Teshich, Managing Director of Omnivision Qatar and President of the National Association for Women in Construction in Qatar, discussed start-up challenges, the construction-real estate link and the future of Qatar real estate. Panelists included Maria Maximova, Head of Business Strategy, Qetaifan Projects, Qatar, Dr. Athba Thamer Al-Thani, Chief Business Development Officer, QDVC, Qatar, Sevgi Gur, Chief Marketing Officer, Property Finder Qatar, Qatar and Haajerah Khan, Chief Operating Officer, Hapondo, Qatar.

Regional sustainability push 

Accounting for around 40 per cent of global energy usage and responsible for nearly 40 per cent of global emissions, the built environment’s carbon footprint is well known. But, beyond this, it also consumes a huge amount of the world’s raw materials and is incredibly water-intensive. 

The case for greening the industry is crystal clear, and it’s also imperative if we are to reach global climate goals, according to bodies such as the World Green Building Council (WGBC). 

The industry, however, is currently way off track, and rapid change is required to move in the right direction. 

This conversation was a key part of discussions at the event, with talks on creating sustainable spaces and aligning the industry, where solar efficiency and construction technology advances were highlighted as “key enablers.”

One of the panel discussions, titled, ‘Qatar’s commitment to sustainability – The stage is set, is the real-estate community in sync,’ for example, brought together Arch. Mohammad Najjar, Head of Architectural Group, Global Sustainability Assessment System Trust (GORD), Qatar, Michael Jarouch, Vice President, First Qatar Real Estate Development Company, Qatar, Abdullatif Ali Al-Yafei, Executive Director Public Services, United Development Company, Qatar, Ajay Jayakumar, Associate Director, Advisory, Organisational & Operational Transformation, ESG, KPMG, Qatar for an exploration of this topic. 

And, in Qatar and the wider region, we are seeing movement toward more greener practices.

In 2021, a number of countries in the GCC ranked highly for their concentration of green buildings. The UAE secured 14th place globally, while Qatar came in at 32nd. Saudi Arabia was placed at 54th, followed by Kuwait and Oman, ranking 69th and 70th, respectively – and efforts have only ramped up since then. 

Further, the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS), previously Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), was developed for the region, and is the fastest growing green building rating system in the Gulf, according to the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD). Indeed, there are now 2000 registered projects covering a built-up area of over two billion square feet in Qatar.

We’re also seeing a rise in regulation aimed at accelerating action here; for example, last year in the UAE, the National Building Regulations and Standards received approval. 

There is, however, a long way to go, and alongside regulation, finance also plays a key role in scaling up green efforts. 

To drive forward action on sustainable development, the event concluded with a fireside chat on the need for enforcement, incentives, and initiatives.

At the event, a number of agreements were also signed, and some aimed at facilitating greater sustainability, including one between the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development (GORD) and United Development Company (UDC). The partnership will see the two collaborate on a number of areas, including the implementation of the Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) on UDC projects. 

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