In 2002, Ayub was a Trainer in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Recourses, Ras Alkhaimah. He then became an Environmental Researcher from 2005 to 2009 for the Center of Environmental Researches, Emirates Heritage Club.
From 2009, Ayub worked with the Al Ain Municipality. During 2009 to 2012, he was a Project Coordinator. In 2012, he was promoted to become a Pest Control Section Manager. He then became the Head of Pesticides and Pest Control Committee in 2013 until 2015. Since 2014, he is the Head of Parks & Facilities Section.
He is also currently the project manager of landscape maintenance for the western sector of Al Ain city since 2011. He is also involved with preparation of the contract & project documents involved with landscaping. Aside from that, Ayub is an inside trainer in Al Ain Municipality since 2015.
Mr. Val Zillig, AICP has over 20 years of experience in Urban Planning, Real Estate, International Projects, Governance and Development on three continents (North America, Europe and Asia).
Currently, he is the Planning Advisor to the Sharjah Urban Planning Council, a position he assumed in May of 2016. He is currently working on a variety of public realm improvement projects, development of urban development policies and land use plans.
Previously, he was Planning Manager/Advisor with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) in the United Arab Emirates for over seven years. In this position, he was responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of zoning codes, real estate policy, regulatory laws, redevelopment plans, development manuals and frameworks regarding Urban Planning in the Emirate. Additionally, he was in charge of the creating affordable housing plans, building regulations and other civic improvement projects.
Prior to joining the UPC in November 2008, Mr. Zillig was an Assistant Commissioner with the Department of Planning and Development with the City of Chicago for nearly 8 years. In that position, he oversaw area plan developments, zoning review, financial aid packages, design review and planning for part of the City of Chicago (NW District) with over 800,000 residents and including O’Hare International Airport. Before working for the City of Chicago, he worked on and managed international projects in Chicago, Germany, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
Mr. Zillig has been a guest instructor/lecturer at the Sorbonne University and the American University of Sharjah since 2009, and has held classes and lectures at New York University, American University of Iraq in Sulaymaniah, Greenwich College London and Al Hosn University Abu Dhabi to name a few. He also has been a panelist on many international programs including the American Planning Association Annual Conference, the Urban Land Institute MENA program, New York University Middle East Panel, the World Future Energy Summit & the Bahrain and Iraq Development forums. Additionally, he has been an active adviser on projects for the Municipality of Fujairah-UAE, the Republic of Seychelles and the South Korean government.
His work has taken him to most countries in Middle East and Central Asia. This exposure and experience in over 60 countries from Iran to Uzbekistan and from Syria to Yemen, have given him a unique perspective of the development, real estate markets and urban planning needs of the region.
Mr. Zillig holds an MS in Public Policy/Urban Planning from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, USA and a BA in Modern Languages from Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, MO, USA.
Geoff is a Senior Associate with AECOM Dubai, currently Public Realm Design Manager for Expo2020.
Over the 24 years in the GCC region Geoff gained a better understanding of the issues concerning the future direction of the region’s landscapes. Over the last 12 years his work, included the landscape strategy for Al Ain, UAE; the landscape strategy for KSA, via MOMRA; the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council Public Realm Design Manual and the Qatar Public Realm Strategy.
Rob has over 25 years’ experience in the Middle East and Asia in the design and management of large scale landscape, urban design and master planning projects. Rob brings a wealth of experience across all sectors, including hospitality, public realm, commercial, retail, residential and infrastructure development, and has been instrumental in establishing new design standards and innovation throughout the region. As a Design Director Rob provides design and project leadership within the Cracknell group of offices and is committed to delivering projects of the highest standards.
Eng. Husain Al Saeedi is the Head of the Standards and Studies Section at Abu Dhabi City Municipality responsible for infrastructure sustainability initiatives.
Prior to this he worked as Head of Irrigation & the SCADA Section within the Municipality, having also worked for 4-years as Project Manager in Execution and Operation & Maintenance Sections of the Parks & Recreational Facilities Division. Eng. Al Saeedi received a Master’s Degree in Business Administration as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic & Computer Engineering. His professional interests focus on SCADA Control Systems and current projects include the ADM SCADA Project, Sustainability initiatives as well as Infrastructure standards and specifications.
André van Heerden is a native South African and has more than 18 years’ experience in business management, including contract negotiation, business development, operations management, team motivation and performance.
He started his career in 1999 as Client Business Manager for OCS Resolution Security Services in the UK, where he successfully managed security services for a portfolio of high profile clients including Royal & Sun Alliance, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, THUS PLC and ICI.
Van Heerden joined Cape Reed International in 2005 as Managing Partner and General Manager for the UAE and Middle East. Over the past thirteen years he has led the company from strength to strength in the region. In 2017 Andre accepted the role of Managing Director for Europe and Middle East Operations, responsible for strategically managing the international operations and business development of Cape Reed International.
He is a well-respected and highly efficient management professional with experience in operational management and business development. He has a proven track record of continuously evaluating and implementing new business processes to increase profitability while maximising quality and customer satisfaction. His skills in planning and managing essential business activities have made him a key figure in the success of Cape Reed, and he endeavours to continue leading the company through further expansion in Europe and the Middle East.
Van Heerden’s main objective is to ensure that Cape Reed International becomes the world leader in the design, supply and installation of high-quality eco-friendly structures using natural sustainable materials.
Rammi is a qualified Irrigation Engineer with extensive 15 years experience in Landscape and Irrigation projects, from early master planning stages all the way to the minute details in irrigation system designs. He is now pursuing the much-coveted Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) and the Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) by the Irrigation Association.
He also possesses a wealth of experience in Landscape and Irrigation projects execution, ranging from projects planning, quality control and overall project management and delivery.
Rammi is now spearheading the specification efforts with the Rain Bird Middle East Team, focusing on raising awareness and spreading valuable education for the Best Irrigation Practices models, as well as imparting the message that Rain Bird is the most innovative and trusted company in the industry for its proven and efficient irrigation products, sustaining quality & durability and offering best services across all channels.
Rain Bird is committed to The Intelligent Use of Water™. The commitment extends beyond products to education, training and services for the industry and the community.
Through partnership in MENA with local firms and agencies, Rain Bird is dedicated to achieve the primary goal of saving water and ensure sustainable irrigation methods and systems in the region.
Mario is a landscape architect with a 15 year of experience in outdoor play and playgrounds and their safety. From conception till submission he has been leading several playground projects in Europe along with playground projects in North Africa, Asia, Middle East and Far Asia. He is one of the most requested certified playground expert in terms of both American and European playground safety regulations. Besides his professional playground carrier, he takes part in different national and international conferences, seminars and other in order to contribute with his experience and knowledge to children’s right to play. He and his team are cooperating with numerous architects and landscape architects to create and control different safe yet fun playgrounds.
Hanna has 29 years of professional irrigation experience in several irrigation firms in the Middle-East, North Africa and Australia. He has experience in irrigation education, Irrigations designs, project management, consultancy works, sales and marketing.
B.Sc. in Irrigation Engineering
M.SC. in Water Resources Management
Dirk Wynants is a Belgian designer and CEO of the international company Extremis. The design brand covers a collection of outdoor (and indoor) furniture that finds its way to gardens and balconies, but also to public squares and offices. Dirk launched his first brainchild – and the first Extremis product - in 1994: the multifunctional garden table Gargantua, which has in the meantime become a true design classic.
Innovation, superior quality materials, a keen eye for functionality and sustainability are part of the credo. Thanks to this attitude, Extremis soon became a worldwide renowned design brand. Dirk’s designs already won many awards, such as Red dot, IF, German Design, FX, Good Design and many more. Apart from that, his company also got awarded for design management, general management and export. Since the establishment in 1994, designer Dirk Wynants has succeeded in getting his company a top position within the international design scene. The fact that he never follows the mainstream, but always brings innovative and progressive design, certainly forms part of this success story.
Dirk doesn’t draw inspiration from design magazines or from looking at other furniture: he looks around to see what is changing in the world. Needs change, socio-economic circumstances evolve, regulations are rewritten… Understanding these evolutions and adapting to them is a source of inspiration for game-changing design. Dirk is also convinced that designs should not only be useful, durable and beautiful in themselves, but also have the power to spark meaningful connections and enhance the way we interact with one another.
To date, Dirk is still the full owner and president of the board of directors, but gives priority to designing and art direction. In addition, he is managing director of his own design studio Dirk Wynants Design Works (founded in 2006) with divisions in Belgium and Shanghai. Also in Shanghai, he shares his experiences at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts.
Kevin has worked in the agricultural and amenity industry for over 30 year, advising farmers, growers amenity sites on all aspects of agronomy.
Specialising in soil health and the improved sustainability of our environment to be able to a meet the challenges we currently face of shortages of water and rising production costs.
With Zeba now registered for use in the UAE we are very excited about the potential for us to aid a sustainable future.
Ralf Stahl has been working in the United Arab Emirates for 22 years and is Managing Partner of Zeoplant LLC, the world’s leading natural mineral moisture retaining soil additive.
Ralf co-founded Zeoplant LLC in 2002 after experiencing the massive construction boom in the U.A.E. with foreseeable water problems for the country and the entire region. Ralf is one of the most pro-active people in the landscaping industry promoting water saving in landscaping, Golf and agricultural developments.
Till today, he established Zeoplant as the leading brand in the Gulf and abroad for moisture retaining soil amendments achieving massive reductions of irrigation water.
Ralf launched Zeoplant successfully in South Africa, Australia, the US and Germany in the past three years.
Zeoplant is a highly sustainable, natural soil additive reducing irrigation demand in the sandy soils by half and it had been applied to various major projects in the Gulf over the last years.
Ralf is working daily with developers, project owners and architects and experiences that sustainable, green solutions often don't reach to the final decision makers.
Going green is not always costly, but saving water is economical and ecological at the same time.
When not working, Ralf enjoys cycling or playing Golf.
Don Sharp is a landscape architect with 25+ years of experience in the design of a wide variety of project types and scales including complex urban projects featuring high-quality, innovative public realm design and construction. He is a Licensed Landscape Architect in the USA, a past president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the ASLA and a Chartered Member of the Landscape Institute in the U.K. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design, Don spent a year constructing prototypes of experimental earth-sheltered passive solar housing intended to be mass-produced in developing countries. After taking a summer course in Chinese Architecture, City Planning and Garden Design at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Don settled into ten years of local and regional practice in the USA. During this time, Don also served as an adjunct professor of landscape architecture at Rhode Island School of Design, teaching a course in advance landscape construction. Don worked off and on for a total of over ten years as a Senior Design Manager, Project Director, and Design Director at Martha Schwartz Partners (MSP), a high-profile international design firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, where his responsibilities encompassed virtually all aspects of professional practice. After a half year stint with internationally renowned garden designer Luciano Giubillei, Don moved to Shanghai for four years where he was a Landscape Design Director for Watershed and EADG. Most recently, Don served as Design Director at MSP, where he was responsible for concept generation, design direction, technical guidance, quality assurance, mentoring, and managing the team of 25+ designers in the MSP head office in London. At Parsons, Don oversees Parsons’ landscape activities in the Middle East and Africa. As a key member of Parsons’ newly formed Land Development & Buildings Division, Don is responsible for the technical and creative excellence of all landscape design and is responsible for developing the landscape group as a whole.
Mansoor has over seventeen years of experience in Consulting and Economic Research in the areas of Business / Strategic / Operational Planning and Transformation, Operators Search & Selection, Market and Financial Feasibility Studies, Valuations, Due Diligence and Private Equity.
Mansoor has handled projects in UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Morocco, Pakistan, East Africa and South America.
At Colliers Mansoor is responsible for offering following services to a large client base across the MENA region:
Successfully assisted number of Clients to achieve their growth strategies, including
Steven grew up in Australia and pursued a career in Urban Planning & Heritage Conservation before embarking on a career in Landscape Architecture. Influenced by his multi-disciplinary background Steven’s work has attempted to promote a more instrumental role for the Landscape as an organizing medium in Urban Planning. His recent work & research seeks to promote the idea of Landscape Urbanism as the future for sustainable urban development in the Middle East and Asia. Steven has experience in all spectrums of the design process including Masterplanning, Conceptual Design to Construction Documentation, Site Supervision. He also has experience in Project Management, Team Management, Business Development, Financial Management and Human Resources.
Farah Naz oversees Sustainability in Dubai, UAE for BuroHappold Engineering in Middle East Region.
Farah has worked in the construction sector in UK, USA and UAE. Her work encompasses sustainability strategy for building and city level urban planning, resource efficient planning, Health and Wellbeing Agenda for Smart Cities, and delivering Liveability for the Arab Cities in the Middle East. Her experience also includes developing green city initiatives with the Copenhagen Government and sustainable policy level work.
She works as technical specialist in building performance evaluation for passive and low energy for projects in UK and Europe.
Currently working on sustainability strategy for the Museum of the Future, Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City, Beeah Headquarters and EXPO 2020 Sustainability Pavilion. Farah was key in strategizing the first zero energy building in UK which won the RIBA Sustainable Buildings Award in 2015.
She is a Chartered Engineer registered with Engineering Council, UK, a board member of the Emirates Green building Council (EGBC), CIBSE UAE chapter, Member of CIBSE UK Resilient Cities Group and CIBSE Council, UK.
Awarded Citation as one of the “50 Most Impactful Green Leaders Globally, 2018” by World Sustainability Congress.
Peter is the Principal Landscape Architect for Khatib &Alami. Peter plays a key role in the Company by bringing a unique approach to environmental design from the detailed urban design of places and spaces to the metropolitan and regional spatial planning scale.
With over 30 years of Australian and International project experience, Peter also brings significant skills in planning, urban design, landscape architect, master planning, sustainability, golf course design, concept architecture as well as marketing, with extensive experience in promoting developments and gaining public acceptance of proposals.
Peter also has developed a unique approach to salt water agronomy, which shows promise for food cultivation and the like.
Landscape Architecture; Sustainability Design; Urban Design; Masterplanning; Urban Planning; Public Space Design; Public Consultation/Facilitation; Resort Design; Golf Course Architecture; Salt Water Agronomy; Design and Construction Management; and Development Conception, Marketing and Management
B. Landscape Architecture,
B. Business (Marketing),
Registered Landscape Architect no.198
With 18 years of Middle East experience, Peter Cottingham is a holistic, creative and innovative Design and design process specialist with a proven track record of high achievement in Master Planning, Urban Design, Architectural and Landscape solutions for the Residential, Office, Leisure, hospitality and entertainment markets.
International Urban Design degree qualified Peter has vast experience delivering integrated development design processes that consider the Business, commercial, practical, cultural and environmental requirements of a design brief, adhere to the principles of Sustainability and Smart City initiatives and create memorable and successful places.
Peter’s past senior roles include Vice President of Development Design at Dubai Holding, overseeing the design management for the Mall of the World Project, the largest retail district in the world, and Head of Urban Design, Planning and Landscape Division at KEO, a multi-national, multi-disciplined design, engineering and Project/Construction management firm where Peter led the design process on a number of large mixed-use and entertainment based projects across the GCC.
Peter has successfully managed the challenges of incorporating new thought leadership in Smart City, Sustainability, and Urban Design Principles into the design process and brings creative leadership and innovation to every project. He is also knowledgeable about creating edutainment, entertainment and leisure attractions using Virtual and Augmented Reality.
With more than 7 years of industry experience gained across the Middle East and formally educated in Landscape Architecture and Eco-Management. Currently working throughout the Middle East with exposure to major roles including Lead Landscape Architect and Design Team Manager. Experience within the roles has provided exposure to a vast range of projects instilling a thorough competence in all areas of the design, construction and management industries. Worked with both the Consultancy and Contracting sector in the full delivery of landscape projects.
Demonstrated ability in communication, leadership & stakeholder management has provided elevation into management roles; effectively leading teams and industry professionals across multiple projects simultaneously.
Benjamin Heydon is a Technical Landscape Consultant to the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City and has worked in the specialist field of landscape architecture for over 13-years. A graduate from the University of Canberra and currently completing a Masters with Heriot Watt University; his experience has been generated through extensive exposure to unique environments which has seen him work in sectors in Canada, Middle East, Australia and Africa. Past large projects include, Ceremonial Walk; Australian War Memorial, Atlantis Hotel; Palm Jumeriah, Yas Island Street Landscape and Racing Circuit and Sheikh Zayed Street (Salam Street).
His technical work includes developing Landscape Standards, Specifications and Technical guidelines in line with best practices. Through coordination with other government body stakeholders and driven by sustainable design he has been successful in introducing a focal shift for the use of native landscape planting within public realm projects.
Paolo Testolini is a RIBA chartered Architect with more than 15 years of experience in Mixed-use schemes, Retail and Residential led masterplans, he has an Msc in Environmental Design from Cardiff University.
Paolo is originally from Italy, educated in the UK, he has worked in 7 countries and 3 continents including Italy, Greece, Mexico, and China, for the last 2 years he has been based in Dubai heading the design and masterplan team of Woods Bagot.
Under Paolo’s leadership, the masterplan team approaches urban principles to deliver holistic and sustainable design solutions.
Paolo’s ethos is based upon a sensible business case for the proposed mix of uses, ensuring that the development proposals can become reality; from strategy to placemaking .
Paolo’s masterplanning proposals are built on an insight into the way places are related to people, spaces to live, work and entertain. Originally based in the London studio, Paolo led the design team on a high density residential led, mixed use scheme in New Barnet as part of a major regeneration initiative in the Greater London area. The project was designed with a holistic approach to address the wider context connecting the park to the town centre via an extended High Street. It consists of a retail store, community space, community uses and apartments. The team received letters of support from both GLA and CABE and was seen by both as a model example of mixed used development in town centres.
Testolini also collaborates with the Welsh School of architecture in Wales, and the TEC of Monterrey in Mexico as an International speaker in design weeks, conferences and courses. Paolo has specialist knowledge of sustainability issues; particularly green materials biomimicry and eco-friendly design.
Paul Mellor joined InSite, a division of KEO International Consultants as the Head of Landscape Architecture in 2017. He has over 23 years’ international experience as a Landscape Architect and Project Manager, which has allowed him to work with some of the most internationally renowned design consultants on projects with construction budgets running in to the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Paul joined InSite in the UAE from his Design Manager role on the Lusail project in Qatar where he ran several of the most prestigious public realm and urban design projects. Previously, Paul was Director of the Landscape Department in a multidisciplinary design studio in Barcelona; with full control, he designed, managed and delivered a diverse range of projects across Spain, Morocco, Cuba, Paraguay and the U.K.
Paul’s extensive construction knowledge and comprehensive understanding of other professions afford him an excellent overview of projects and the relationship between the various components. He is an experienced, multi-disciplinary leader and a productive member of any team.
Hrvoje is an urban planner and designer, leading Arup's urbanism team in the Middle East. He has been involved in projects ranging from small place-making interventions to city-wide regeneration strategies, and from large greenfield developments to strategic plans in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa.
He is a passionate believer in creating spaces and places for people first and a keen proponent of regeneration, compactness of urban environments and people centred use of technology. He is committed to helping create better urban environments in the Middle East, through challenging accepted norms and nurturing innovation. He combines his professional awareness in urban planning and design with his interest in anthropology, human geography, psychology and history in order to better understand and make the most of their interdependencies.
Ben Piper is a Design Director with 17 years of professional experience in architecture (based in Dubai for last 10 years). He has worked with a variety of global practices including Gensler, Halcrow, Atkins & Perkins + Will in designing hotel, residential and mixed-use developments in the Middle East, India, China, US and the UK.
Ben established the Perkins + Will Architectural Design Studio for the Middle East and North Africa and has since moved on to help establish Killa Design, a new Architectural Studio in Dubai. Significant wins in the hospitality and residential sector have included the Diplomatic Quarter Hotel and serviced apartment project in Riyadh (Marriot), The BLVD Heights Project; a 45 story residential twin tower for Emaar located in the Burj district. While at his previous firm (Atkins) Ben was the lead architect for ‘The BLVD Address Hotel’ (5 star hotel and serviced apartment building for Emaar (under construction in Dubai), lead architect for the Namaste ‘W Hotel’ (300 key hotel for Starwood Group, under construction in Mumbai) and lead architect for the ITC Office Headquarters (LEED platinum project for 10,000 IT workers under construction in Bangalore).
Ben holds several technology patents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology based on his research into the field of computational design tools
Laila Alawneh, (Urban Planner and Architect) graduated from Aalborg University in Denmark and University of the Arts London. Specialising in Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design. During her career in different cities including Helsinki and Copenhagen her work spanned between on metropolitan expansion projects and Urban infills to building design and landscape. Currently she is working in the UAE for Arada Developments on Al Jada project, a cutting edge sustainable district.
Laila’s work is distinguished by incorporating Art with Engineering, in an integrated Design Process by bringing multidisciplinary knowledge to the table.
Laila is passionate about architecture and urban Planning and tends to provide tectonic solutions that not only comply with functional requirements, but seize to solve the problem of the site by providing sustainable design solutions on a high level of performance.
The winning project at the Arboreal Design Competition with her group member Yliana Christova ‘The Leaf’, attracted attention and was presented at two events in Europe, The Timber Expo in Birmingham and Go2Wood in Copenhagen.
Laila takes on painting for a hobby and her Art has been exhibited and sold in Finland and in Amman at Darat Al Funun.
Dr. Rim Meziani is an Associate Professor at the Department of Architecture and Design in Abu Dhabi University. She has been working in UAE for 10 years and has more than 20 years of international experience in Academia and research. Dr. Meziani is an author of one book and several journal papers and International conference papers. She is also an active reviewer and has been twice a guest editor of special issues in the IRSPSD journal, which is SCOPUS indexed.
Regarding her MEMBERSHIP OF SCIENTIFIC & PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES, she is:
Dr. Meziani is an expert in urban studies and has worked on the followings: visibility, connectivity and accessibility of open spaces, etc., land use change and transportation, urban sprawl, walkability and sustainability, Space Syntax, GIS, Abu Dhabi 2030 master plan, and other topics.
With her expertise, skills and experience in teaching, research and services, Professor Rim is trying to contribute to the wellbeing of the community at all aspects of the natural and built environment within the principles and the perspective of the sustainable development.
Rayya joined the Sustainability Team of Buro Happold Dubai in 2013. Prior to this she has worked on sustainable building research and design with various environmental organizations including the United Nations Environmental Department. Rayya’s main area of expertise is resource management and providing strategic integrated resources guidance within the built environment:
informing building and masterplan design for resources reduction and developing walkable places that reduce the dependency on car and vehicle fuel. She has worked on a variety of Middle East and international projects. Rayya provided sustainable design guidance to project scaling from villas, buildings, communities development to master planning. Rayya is also a LEED AP and has led the delivery of LEED projects across the region.
Dr. Ikko Tucker has been serving as an Associate Professor in, and founding Co-Chair of, the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Zayed University, UAE. She received a PhD in Agronomy from Pennsylvania State University (with a specialization in Turfgrass Science). Prior to joining Zayed University, she has worked at Texas A&M University, and Vanderbilt University. Her recent research is focused on the implementation of green growth plants, and pedagogical approaches critical to promoting environmental sustainability in urban communities in the GCC region.
*Speakers to be confirmed
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