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Environmental concerns offer lucrative deals for green firms
Source: ITP Business Net
growth has led to more than just a changing
skyline. The consequences of rapid development
have brought many opportunities – and not just for construction
companies. New products and markets have become more clearly
defined and off-shoots of major industrial sectors are becoming
more established in the region.
The Dubai Ideal Home Show bears testament to this, with
Christopher Hudson, exhibitions director, Messe Frankfurt,
organisers of the show, stating that the regional property boom
is leading to massive growth in allied sectors. He also says
that the emirate is perfectly suited to hosting a show of this
type, which brings together experts from the fields of interior
design, landscaping and associated sectors.
“Industry statistics indicate that the total value of real
estate projects currently under way in the Middle East region
has already crossed the US $1 trillion (AED3.6 trillion) mark.
With a variety of mixed-use projects in various stages of
development and new projects being announced on a frequent basis
across the region, the show provides the best opportunities for
auxiliary businesses to thrive,” he says.
If more indication was needed, Grant Donald, the world renowned
landscape architect will be visiting the show to unveil new
trends in the world of design and architecture. He is currently
the chairman of the International Federation of Landscape
Architects (IFLA), Committee for the Development of Landscape
Architecture in the African Continent, and is the first western
professional to become a member of a Chinese Society of
view of a landscaping boom was further strengthened by the first
IPM Dubai (International Plants Expo Middle East) which featured
1,521 trade visitors from more than 50 nations and took place in
March 2006. With confidence in the continued growth in the
region, 90% of exhibitors stated their desire to return for the
second IPM Dubai in March 2007. With visitors from various
sectors of horticulture including landscaping, it was noted that
visitors to the show travelled from the entire Gulf region,
Indian subcontinent, Central Asia and East Africa, while
American and European trade visitors used it to gain a valuable
overview into the market. It is estimated more than twice as
many exhibitors will attend next year and it is hoped that IPM
Dubai will establish itself as the premier fair for horticulture
and floriculture in the Middle East.
Within the region, those companies securing landscaping
contracts are not all exterior-based. Planters, the largest
interior landscaping company in the UAE, won four new contracts
at the DIFC earlier in the year: Dubai Financial Services
Authority; Dubai International Financial Exchange; AIG and Dubai
International Capital. Interior landscaping in offices has
become extremely popular in recent years, as plants offer not
only obvious aesthetic qualities but also are effective in
removing organic chemicals and pollutants from the air in
commercial settings. Furthermore, they play a role in the
control of humidity – a major factor influencing air quality.
More recently the company secured the Dubai Civil Aviation
contract to landscape Dubai’s new International Airport Phase
Two, scheduled to be completed in 2007. The contract involves
sourcing nearly 4,000 exotic plants, which include 46 large and
uncommon plant specimens ranging from 2-7m tall, to be installed
in the new airport terminal building.
The plants have been sourced from Central and South America,
China and the US specifically for the project. According to
Jonathan Pardoe, general manager, Planters, the concept of the
landscape of this project is to create an oasis setting in two
areas of the main concourse. “This will provide a restful and
contemplative garden for passengers to unwind and relax during
their journey. The most unique part of the project is the plant
selection. Some of these plants have never been seen in the
Middle East before,” he adds.
But not all impact is positive. In a region already hampered by
its lack of natural water, exaggerated developments
incorporating landscaping features into their master plans place
even greater demand on supply. Thankfully, some companies are
becoming aware of this damaging trend and have introduced
materials which have the potential to offset environmental
damage that might otherwise have occurred.
Zeoplant is registered in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and is involved in
various major projects in the UAE, Oman, Qatar and Egypt. It
carries out consulting, design, implementation and supervision
for landscaping projects and, according to the firm, its product
significantly reduces the quantity of irrigation water by 50%
because it ties up a high amount of water, reduces the
percolation rate in the soil and reduces the usage of NPK
fertilisers by the prevention of ‘leaching out’.
The product ‘Zeoplant’ is a very effective water retaining soil
amendment, according to the firm, consisting of fully natural
mineral material, treated with a special natural organic
component. Its unique features are a very big active surface,
high porosity, extremely good water retention, high Cationic
Exchange Capacity (CEC) and salt binding effect.
“Water is a big issue here and becoming more of an issue,” says
Ralf Stahl, managing partner, Zeoplant. Following extensive
field trials carried out within the UAE and Oman in close
co-operation with key clients such as Nakheel, Dubai Investments
and other main contractors, Nakheel included Zeoplant in the
landscaping management guidelines in 2005. And in May 2006 it
received approval from Abu Dhabi Municipality as the only water
retaining soil amendment and will be an integral part of its
“From the moment Nakheel put us in the landscaping management
guidelines, which is the bible every contractor has to follow,
things gathered momentum; although it still took a year to get
the project on the Palm,” says Stahl.
Stahl explains that although Nakheel explored water retention
technology a few years ago, it was not until Zeoplant that other
contractors took notice.
“Nakheel was the first developer to impose water saving soil
additives into their specifications. At that time they were
using polymer found in baby nappies to suck up water but it is a
chemical and has other disadvantages,” adds Stahl.
Zeoplant now has the contract for all landscaping on the Palm
Jumeirah. And this week the company is shipping material to Oman
for its first project out of the UAE. It is also in final
discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Agriculture for a
one million m2 landscaping area and expects news within two
With water becoming a more precious source in the region (recent
figures from the World Wildlife Fund revealed Dubai had one of
the highest per capita water consumption figures in the world -
three times that of London), it is clearly essential that
products such as Zeoplant make further inroads into the emirate.
As well as being in close co-operation with Dubailand, the
company received approval from the USGA (US Golf Association) in
September 2005 for the implementation of its product on golf
courses. With a number of golf developments under construction
such as The Dunes at Dubai Sports City, which are due for
completion in June 2007, and the Jumeirah Golf Estates project -
a 36-hole development designed by Greg Norman, this is a timely
Stahl, thankfully, says he has noticed a change over the last
year towards water saving products in the landscaping sector.
“Now we get the impression, when talking to a new generation of
local people coming into their positions, they are much
more aware and open and say they need to save natural resources.
In the last 12 months there has been a change in people’s mind,”