Michael Austin is a senior urban designer with the City of Bellevue, where he is engaged in a variety of urban design efforts. He was previously a senior urban designer and campus planner with Perkins+Will, where he was was involved as a coordinator for the Perkins+Will Equity Change Team, and focused on the physical impact of emerging technologies centered around mobility as a member of Perkins+Will’s Mobility Lab. During that time he led multiple grant-based studies around age-friendly public space design, autonomous mobility, ground-level robotics, and freight drones. He currently serves as Chair of the Seattle Planning Commission, and previously served on the Seattle Design Review Board.
Martha Schwartz is a founder and participant of the GSD Climate Change Working Group, which gave shape to the first ever required climate change course to incoming students in 2020. She also has mounted a seminar in conjugation with Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Science on the topic of geoengineering.
Schwartz foresees landscape architecture as the leading profession to face the challenge of Climate Change. At the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 2016 “New Landscape Declaration” summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future, Martha’s “Declaration” on climate change became the key proponent of the industry’s current position that Climate Change is a central issue to the practice.
She is a founding member of the Working Group of Sustainable Cities at the Harvard University Center for the Environment, a founding member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation ‘s “Working Group on Climate Change”, and has recently founded MAYDAY. Earth, a non-profit organization focused on educating non-scientists and generalists about geoengineering and global-scale solutions which can be integrated into practice, thus expanding the role of landscape architecture.
Awarded the 2020 ASLA Design Medal, Ms. Schwartz is the recipient of numerous international recognitions, including the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for her outstanding contribution to UK design; the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award; the Women in Design Award for Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects; an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Ulster in Belfast, Ireland; a fellowship from the Urban Design Institute; visiting residencies at Radcliffe College and the American Academy in Rome; an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects; the Council of Fellows Award by the American Society of Landscape Architects and most recently a Doctor Honoris Causa from the Boston Architectural College.
From environmental researcher in 2005 to the coordinator of recreational parks in 2009 and finally to the head of the section from 2010 to the present, during the last ten years I sought to develop myself first and understanding the work of landscape projects to start communicating with companies and agencies to follow best practices and attend conferences to search for new In projects for gardens and parks. In order to convey this experience and knowledge, I applied for the Certified Trainer Certificate in the Foundation & project management certificate. Currently, in addition to the Head of the Department, I manages maintenance contracts projects for gardens and open areas with challenges and finding appropriate solutions.
Nivine is AESG’s Division Head for Environment and Waste. With a combined sustainability and environmental sciences educational background and experience, Nivine’s projects portfolio varies between environmental impact assessment and waste management design studies on numerous projects throughout the region for a variety of industries including commercial, marine and offshore developments, oil & gas, industrial and utilities and infrastructure.
Nivine has also worked on a number of strategic consulting and government advisory projects through her work with the United Nations Development Program. Nivine currently manages a team of ecologists, environmental engineers, certified environmental auditors, GIS planners and environmental modelling experts who deliver an ever-expanding breadth of environmental and waste services.
A knowledgeable and enthusiastic Turf Manager with 28 plus years of professional turf work with elite sports in the fields of cricket, AFL, soccer and rugby. These disciplines have been acquired by study and travels throughout the world. Currently Head Curator at Dubai Sports City, overseeing all turf facilities for the International Cricket Council Academy, Dubai International Stadium, Spanish Soccer School and Rugby Park. Having worked for MCG, Lords and Dubai International Stadium, I am experienced in preparing cricket pitches in 3 different continents.
Eng. Husain Al Saeedi at Abu Dhabi City Municipality responsible for infrastructure sustainability initiatives. He has 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.
Steven Velegrinis is Head of Masterplanning at AECOM Middle East and Africa. His work has focussed on the multi-disciplinary intersections between urban planning and landscape architecture and he has led design teams since 2003. Over the past 23 years he has practiced in Australia, Southeast Asia and the Gulf. His recent work has included urban design projects such as the Dubai Design District Masterplan, Qatar Science and Technology Park Masterplan, Bogacay Creek Masterplan in Antalya, The Mount Masterplan in Muscat, Le Marais Masterplan in Rabat, Morocco and the Hatta Tourism Masterplan.
Steven has also led the site design and landscape architecture of a series of hospitality projects including the Chedi, Ras Al Hadd, La Ville Hotel and City Walk Residential in Dubai, Kempinski The Wave Muscat and Hakkasan Restaurant in Emirates Towers Dubai. He remains involved in the development of the profession through his speaking engagements and research initiatives which have included speaking at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge University and Universite Paris Sorbonne.
Jeddah Economic Company is the exclusive Developer and Agent of Jeddah Economic City . In my current job am Heading all activities related to Master Planning, Architectural Projects Development,Roads, Infrastructure, Utilities and Landscaping of Jeddah Economic City; located in Obhur featuring Jeddah Tower (formerly Kingdom Tower) the tallest building in the world under construction ( +1km ) , and forming the projected Central Business District of Jeddah - KSA. J.E. City is a mixed use development that will be the leading example for city-making in KSA ,and adopting the latest tools for Sustainable Design and Smart City services & applications.
Clinton Southorn: Cluster Director of Agronomy for Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Yas Links Abu Dhabi. Clinton was appointed as Complex Director of Agronomy at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in August 2016. With the recent promotion taking place in August 2019. He has over 18 years of experience within the golf industry, with his most notable position within Troon Golf as Agronomy Superintendent for The Els Club in Dubai since 2010. Clinton started his career in Australia as a Greenkeeper at Brookwater Golf Club in 2002. He joined Denarau Golf & Racquet Club in Fiji as Superintendent in 2005 and was promoted to General Manager. He moved to Portugal in 2008 as Superintendent at Azores Golf Islands, and held the role of Construction and Grow-in Golf Course Superintendent at both Saadiyat Beach Gold Club in Abu Dhabi in 2008 and Agalarov Golf Estates in Moscow in 2010.
Baharash Bagherian is the Design Director at Diamond Developers, leading a multi-disciplinary team of Urban planners, Architects, Landscape Designers and Interior Designers to design the next generation of sustainable cities.
The Design Studio at Diamond Developers offers the expertise developed during the planning, construction, and operation of The Sustainable City in Dubai – the first operational Net Zero Energy development in the region. Working with partner organizations, Diamond Developers aims to replicate the city globally to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. With a commitment to social, environmental and economic sustainability, the company is uniquely positioned to provide holistic solutions that are based on practical experience and applied sustainability know-how.
At Diamond Developers, Baharash Bagherian is leading the designs of creative and unique sustainable cities that make a positive contribution to our current and future generations. There is a true sense of entrepreneurial spirit in Baharash Bagherian’s approach to master planning. Each project is driven by a process of investigation, experimentation and always asking “what if?”. The outcomes of these studies coupled with the expertise of Diamond Developers in sustainability which embodies years of research, testing, and implementation of sustainable solutions, form the basis of the design. Each project thus presents an opportunity for a new way of thinking, to provide a higher quality of life whilst also protecting the environment.
Eng. Khaled Nawar is the Regional director – GCC for MEAC “Middle East Agriculture Company” with 14years experience in Landscape, irrigation, hardscape & engineering products, Khaled managed different markets all over the GCC (UAE, Qatar, Oman & Kuwait).
Khaled is certified by the Irrigation Association “IA” with agricultural engineering background & working experience with International companies like Rain Bird international & big local companies like Gebal Co. Having Manufacturing, trading & contracting experiences, Khaled always believe that Landscape & irrigation is a vital element in the urban spaces as we are in a region where every drop of water counts.
An experienced Architect and Project Manager with significant skills in the design and procurement
processes, worked on numerous projects from concept design to the delivery on site. Working in architectural practices around the world, inspiring and directing a large team with a host of disciplines and expertise to realise the design intent and develop creative and effective design solutions for each project.
With 17 years of industry experience, the area of expertise includes: masterplanning, mixed-use, retail,
residential, hospitality, commercial and education projects.
In the Middle East, worked on many award winning lifestyle destinations including: Bahrain Marina, a luxury waterfront mix-use masterplan; The Galleria in Abu Dhabi, offering a wealth of retail and
dining experiences; The Beach in Dubai a waterfront destination; City Walk in Dubai, an iconic landmark of the city; Thalia Street & Riyadh Park Mall in KSA and Abu Dhabi Plaza in Astana, Kazakstan.
Khalid Meccai started his professional education with a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology. After a brief stint in textile industry he completed his Master’s degree in Technology in the year 1984 with specialization in Geotextiles. Since then for the past 36 years he has been involved extensively in various facets of geotextile/geosynthetics usage.
In 1996 he joined ALYAF Industrial Company, Saudi Arabia, and went on to head its technical support department for over 25 years. During this period he has been extensively involved in the design and construction of geosynthetics based civil engineering solutions for applications like soil stabilization, drainage, marine structures, landfills, roof gardens, etc. He brings in extensive hands-on experience of the geotechnical environment in the GCC and the specific demands on the Geosynthetic based solutions to suit them. He has been involved in the design and selection of geosynthetics for some of the largest Geotechnical and environmental engineering projects in the GCC.
He has over twelve technical papers to this credit.
Nathan Chapman is the co-founder of Eva-Last®, one of the largest composite manufacturers in the world. Thanks to Nathan’s leadership, Eva-Last® has grown over the last 15 years to become a global brand that is represented in more than 35 countries. Nathan who is responsible for the sales and marketing direction of the business, has personally hired and trained more than 150 sales and marketing specialists. Not only has Nathan achieved much success and notoriety in the construction and building materials industries, but is also highly regarded in sales and marketing circles around the world. Being exceptionally proficient in negotiation skills, Nathan has personally increased corporate revenue by over 45%. Successfully bringing to market more than 15 patented composite products, Nathan continues to inspire those in the industry with his intricate understanding of composite product market appetite and market needs and conditions. As a thought leader in composite building materials, Nathan’s leadership style is motivational in nature, consistently inspiring proactive, solution driven results to help improve the building and construction sectors. Being a highly ambitious, self-made global success, Nathan is exceptionally passionate about contributing positively towards creating a greener future for all.
Emir Ergec has a background in Plant Physiology and Plant Biology from Bristol University and has eight years’ professional experience with Gulf Perlite LLC, a local manufacturer of Perlite & Vermiculite-based water retaining soil amendment & lightweight soil additive. Emir works with numerous UAE landscape contractors, consultants and developers to promote water conservation and sustainable greenscape areas harnessing the benefits of Perlite, a natural lightweight volcanic mineral. Emir provides agronomic support for local farms and greenhouses contributing to the UAE food security.
Haism is an Urban planner with over 19 years' experience, where 14y in the GCC. He has handled increasingly complex duties in bid & project management of a wide array of projects including master planning of industrial cities, tourism developments, institutional and commercial developments across the GCC region. Most recently, he has joined the newly established Governmental entity to assist managing and planning residential communities
Haism has been with in the GCC since 2005, delivering some of the most challenging and iconic master planning tasks across Abu Dhabi and the region, including the Al Marya Island (formerly Sowwah) DMP, Mussafah Industrial Area re-development plan and Khalifa Port Industrial ZoneDMP.
While across the region he was involved in some of the key project such as Riyadh Metro, Arriyadh Central Area Urban Renewal Framework, CapEx management for Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His experience record also spans transportation planning for the Pedestrian – Bicycle Master Plan in Abu Dhabi Emirate and the National Transport Strategy, as well experience gained working with government departments such as UPC, DMAT, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport and the Abu Dhabi housing authority. Also regionally by working closely with Ministry of Transport and housing in Saudi
Currently working with Azizi Developments as Chief Development Officer, and responsible for all design and construction activities. Mohamed holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Ain Shams University, Egypt, as well as Master’s of Business Administration from the International Business School of Scandinavia. Certified in Building Information Modeling (BIM) - Project Management from RICS UK, he has effectively used these methodologies in his current and previous role for project scheduling, issue-tracking, solving technical issues, and resource management.
As the head of the Project Design and Construction Department, Mohamed oversees design, construction, and project management along with the maintenance of post-handover projects. With 20 years of experience, he plays a lead role in the vision, concept, execution, and initiatives that align operations, planning, and design processes with effective resource management and Azizi’s sustainability objectives. In his previous roles with NAGA Architects and ECG, he accumulated extensive experience in design and construction documentation as well as project management and leading teams as Architectural Department Manager. He enjoys seeing projects through from conception to delivery.
Carlos is a qualified urban and master planner with over 10 years of proven international experience. He started his career in Portugal where he was a key part of the growth and leadership of the master planning sector of an award-winning international consultancy. In his initial professional years, he gained significant experience in Brazil and Africa, leading the design of numerous residential and hospitality projects for private and governmental entities. He has been based in Abu Dhabi for the last 3 years where he has been the lead designer on some of the biggest master plans in the region.
Marlon is an IFLA chartered landscape architect and environmental manager, with 16 years of working experience as a planner, designer and engineer. He built up his portfolio and track-record in the fields of urban planning & design, public realm and landscape architecture, leadership and management in Malaysia, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
Having worked and lived in various cultures and climates, Marlon has been at the helm of a great variety of international and multidisciplinary companies and teams. He has acted in a variety roles as client representative, consultant, entrepeneur, main-contractor, subcontractor, manufacturer and supplier. This gave him the tools & track record to lead and deliver complex projects, throughout the various stages of a project life-cycle.
The Managing Partner of ZAS Group of Companies, DJ has been an international expert advisor to many governments and semi-governments such as Government of Libya, Government of Caribbean Island, Toronto Muncipality and Government of Ivory coast. His extensive design and management expertise of large scale & complex, mixed-use, high rise, and master planning projects has led to the successful completion of several large neighborhoods, infrastructure, cultural, corporate, institutional, residential, hospitality, passenger terminals, city centers and private / public sector projects.
DJ has over 35 years of experience in managing & designing various projects in countries like Canada, Caribbean Islands, France, Ivory Coast, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Oman, Kurdistan, Morocco, India and Angola. He is also extensively involved in seminars and magazine interviews, as a distinguished speaker or an expert panelist.
DJ was an expert advisor for Govt. of Ivory Coast, city of Aboisso for city Master Planning and to study the city growth and behavioral patterns, specifically related to plantation workers resettlement. He recommended growth and restructuring strategies incorporating city downtown redevelopment. As a member of a committee setup by Toronto Municipality his task was to study the work and live culture adaptation for Toronto Downtown, which primarily was a commercial/offices district. The works of the committee have converted the office district into a vibrant live & work neighborhood today. He was also an expert advisor to the Caribbean island government to assess the new airport location, in line with the Caribbean island eco-tourism agenda, in conjunction with a study for a Resort on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) with government wherein the government would participate with the land and private investor for complete development. DJ was also retained by the Government of Libya to masterplan alternative Tripoli downtown, 10 square kilometers of area.
Manosh leads the Jacobs Middle East Urban Planning and Intelligent systems team. He is a creative designer with experience in over 10 countries and including the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Europe and the Carribean.
Manosh has worked in pivotal roles on some of the Middle East and India’s largest projects including new Capital city Amravati (India), Business Bay Dubai, Lusail Doha, World Cup 2022, industrial cities for Saudi Aramco and Modon and the regeneration of Hatta and Dubai’s Historical district.
Manosh is an alumnus of the US Dept of State International Visitors programme, a UK Chevening scholar (awarded for Masters studies UCL) and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.
“Great architecture is true sustainable development, which respects the heritage and the cultural values of the area, implementing lasting social, economic and physical growth and prosperity for generations to come.”
Ala brings a global perspective to all of his work. His influence can be seen around the world though projects in Kuwait, Syria, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Algeria, and China, as well as several large-scale projects in the U.S.A Today, he believes a successful project is one that is impacted by local context and heritage. By keeping this in mind, Ala is determined to continuously learn about a client’s business and how architecture can help them achieve their goals. “The possibilities are endless; there is always something new to learn,” Ala specializes in master planning and urban design, hospitality, healthcare, and entertainment, office, corporate headquarters, mixed use, and transportation projects, as well as, higher education and museum facilities.
Neil has worked on several notable projects in the UK and the Middle East across a variety of sectors including retail, leisure, transport, education and masterplanning. Building a broad portfolio and honing his experience on an international scale, Neil has extensive knowledge of the entire design process, from the conceptual design of a development through to its actual construction.
Working on a range of leisure and commercial projects, Neil’s previous experience includes the Jeddah Mall and Towers in KSA, which set the standard for other multipurpose developments in the country; Bahrain Marina, a 135,000m2 prime waterfront home to a five-star hotel, F&B outlets, beach villas and a retail village; City Walk in Dubai, a luxury retail development with premium entertainment and fine dining; and the remodelling of Paddington Station’s interior, London’s famous train station.
George is an architect and urban designer with more than 20 years of experience in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. He has led project teams on a wide variety of projects through internationally renowned practices and has a proven track record of delivering large-scale, complex developments. George has a Master of Architecture and a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA, as well as a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Florida College of Architecture.
Grew up in Bristol in the South West of England and had a passion for sport from an early age. Found myself doing an HND in golf course management and loved it. Really enjoyed all aspects of maintaining a golf course and experiencing some beautiful courses while learning my trade.
After I gained my HND I completed 4 years near Bristol at a club called The Players Club. For a lot of that time I was deputy head greenkeeper. Then in 2006 I moved to Bahrain to become assistant Superintendent at Riffa Golf Club. Learnt a great deal about warm season grasses which improved my knowledge of agronomy. I was there for the construction of a new course on the same site and then changing its name to The Royal Golf Club.
I was headhunted to come and work at Emirates Golf Club in 2009 and jumped at the chance to improve my knowledge. Did 18 months there as Assistant Superintendent before being promoted to Superintendent at Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
Returned to Emirates Golf Club after 7 years in 2018 to become Golf Course Superintendent which has lead me to my recent new position of Director of Agronomy for Dubai Golf, overseeing Emirates Golf Club, Jumeirah Golf Estates and Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.
With over eight years’ experience, Rayya has worked on a wide range of projects scales, from cities and buildings to masterplans and design prototypes. She has an extensive project portfolio spanning a variety of sectors, including Cultural, Education and Urban Development.
Joining Buro Happold in 2013, Rayya is a passionate individual who is determined to add value to projects. Her areas of interest include energy carbon, health and wellbeing, external environment and circular economy.
Sustainability is a way of thinking for Rayya. Across all aspects of her work, Rayya’s expertise encourages innovative ways of thinking about the future, in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life.
She also advices the World Green Building Council, helping to create new frameworks within local universities to support the next generation of students.
Boris is a landscape architect and environmental planner with more than 18 years of experience in landscape and urban design. He follows a holistic design and planning approach keeping communal placemaking and sustainability in mind.
He also holds a certificate in horticulture which he practices enthusiastically for more than 30 years.
Boris previously managed design development for landscape and the public realm of flagship developments like the Town Square in Dubai for Nshama and the design and construction of public parks, streetscapes and open spaces for the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City.
Boris currently holds the position as a Senior Landscape Architect at the AE7 office in Dubai.
Farah is an Associate Sustainability Lead in the Environment and Sustainability team at WSP in the Middle East. She
currently manages the Sustainability discipline in addition to leading the Energy and Waste service lines. Farah also
serves as the Vice Chair to the Emirates Green Building Council.
Farah’s expertise covers a wide range of development typologies including residential, commercial, hospitality,
industrial and mixed use developments where she has been involved in the management of sustainable design,
construction and operational aspects.
Farah holds a Master’s degree in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment and is a LEED Accredited Professional,
WELL Accredited Professional, Estidama Pearl Qualified Professional, and BREEAM Assessor. Farah focuses on the
social aspect of sustainability which relates to people and their wellbeing. Throughout her career, Farah has been
involved in occupational psychology assessments and now focuses on sustainability, health and wellbeing in the built
*Speakers to be confirmed
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