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.
Erik Pasveer (1959) is head of the urban planning and design department of the city of The Hague. The department consists of some 65 professionals working on strategic issues of regional and urban planning, sustainable development and climate adaptation, public space and on the design of urban projects. Before, he worked as head of urban planning and design of the city of Delft, as a consultant and as a researcher and teacher in urbanism and planning at universities and academies in the Netherlands and abroad. He is member of the managing committee of Metrex, the European network of practitioners on metrolpoles and metropolitan regions.
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.
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.
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.
Matthew is a Principal at Grimshaw in Dubai. With over 17 years’ professional experience, he has dedicated the past 11 years to the Gulf states and Middle East. He has significant experience in the design and co-ordination of complex mixed-use projects that serve as key public hubs for retail, commercial, entertainment and sports venues, and their interface with surrounding sites.
Matthew brings a focus on socially and environmentally sustainable design, building on his contribution as a designer in community-based projects initiatives, and on his involvement in post professional curricula focused on the role of architecture in the public realm.
Matthew leads Grimshaw’s efforts in the Middle East. In addition to the ongoing works for the Sustainability Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai, other notable projects include designs for immersive garden experiences, a mixed-use scheme in Bahrain, and several other regional projects including outdoor community sports & recreation parks, light rail transit stations and aviation authority headquarters facilities.
Morné Fourie (B.Arch cum laude, M.Arch) is a Real Estate Design & Development professional specializing in master planning, urban design, concept design & feasibility, historic precinct redevelopment, entertainment destinations, tourism, themed environments, retail and hospitality. He served in Senior VP, VP and senior director roles in publicly listed entities and semi-government real estate developers in Dubai including a decade with Meraas Holding group companies. He spent the preceding decade in consultancy in Asia and the Middle East, most notably as director of AECOM. He composes development briefs, procure and manage design consultants, design manage GFA, BUA, FAR and budgets.
He chairs and is a speaker and panelist at conferences, teaches urban planning at a post-graduate level, participated in the development plan of Dubai 2020 & Dubai vision 2021, and has presented real estate interventions to both the rulers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. He is a former cum laude student and recipient of the Commonwealth Scholarship and a master's graduate from McGill University in Montreal. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Chairman of the Dubai British School Advisory Board, and a founding member of DSCP. As an artist, Morné’s work has been exhibited in a gallery in the Alserkal Avenue in Dubai and is permanently exhibited in the Lapita Marriot Hotel in Dubai.
A qualified Urban and Regional Planner with more than twenty years of diversified experience in design, project management, construction, contractual management and strategic planning. Worked on the most challenging and impactful mixed-use and residential development projects plus portfolio management projects.
Safwan has been working in the field of Master Planning and Ministerial Coordination for +30 years. Currently entitled of Advisor for Urban Development Directorate / Urban Design Section as part of the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning. In addition to his technical experience, he has been part of the bidding preparation and evaluation in various projects in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Waleed Shaalan currently works as the Design Director of AREP in the Middle East, a multidisciplinary practice and a key player in transforming the City. Based in Paris, the AREP Group delivers projects on different scales going from large metropolitan areas and urban districts to individual buildings and street furniture. Previously Waleed worked as Senior Vice President leading the design team in URC Kuwait after working as Design Principal for SSH, a multidisciplinary firm with over 50 years of experience in architecture, engineering, infrastructure and project Management. He lead the SSH/Cal Earth team that won the best leisure led project at the World Architecture Festival 2012. While in SSH he collaborated with many consultants including collaboration with Enric Ruiz-Geli of Cloud 9 and with Atelier Jean Nouvel on the winning design for Educational and Cultural Center of Abdullah Al Ahmad Competition in Kuwait. After graduating from the University Of Maryland School Of Architecture he joined Perkins & Will in Chicago and worked with The Architects Collaborative (TAC) on the Design and Master Planning of Umm Al Qura University in KSA. Waleed also worked in Korea with Jung Lim Associates and Perkins + Will on the corporate headquarters of the Samyang and Dongbu corporations.
In 1999 he founded BrainStorm, a multidisciplinary design firm based in Kuwait and in 2009 merged with SSH and joined forces after a decade of successful collaboration.
“Currently the Cluster Director of Agronomy for Emaar Hospitality Group, Sean oversees golf course maintenance operations at the Address Montgomerie, Arabian Ranches Golf Club, and Dubai Hills Golf Club by Jumeriah golf courses. After gaining his trade qualifications in Turf Management back in Australia, he has been attached to the Troon Golf management company for the past 12 years, completing stints in the United States, Russia and India before coming to Dubai in 2014. In addition to his Australian trade certification he has also completed tertiary level turf management programs at the Ohio State University and the University of Massachusetts”.
Rob has more than 15 years’ experience with Dynamo Playgrounds in the commercial playground equipment industry. Often commenting that he is a ‘professional at play’, he has had extensive involvement in the design of innovative playground equipment and transformative playspaces, which both have incredible positive impacts on the communities with which he has been privileged to work.
While leading Dynamo’s extensive safety and product testing programs, Rob is also a long serving supporter of safe play across the industry. Contributing through positions on the ASTM and CSA working groups for playground safety regulations, both IPEMA’s Equipment Certification Committee & Board of Directors, and the NRPA Play Area Advisory Panel, Rob is at the heart of progress for safe and well-designed playspaces.
Rob is a passionate crusader about the many benefits of good play, and the life-long impact that better play experiences can have on the children and families of communities globally.
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.
Jamal is a seasoned expert on matters of technical & consultancy support for commercial projects, certified training, international sales and distribution management in the irrigation & mechanical, landscaping & agriculture, and public health sectors. He consistently exceeds the most challenging corporate objectives whilst remaining focused on increasing market share in distribution and achieving competitive superiority. He specialises in formulating winning strategies and plans to improve teamwork & performance whilst ensuring outstanding service delivery by creating innovative customer offerings & industry education. A motivational and inspirational manager capable of coaching and empowering individuals to enable them to fulfil their potential whilst ensuring that they make a positive contribution to the business.
Experienced masterplanner and urban designer with a demonstrated history of working successfully in the architecture and planning industry. Skilled in Urban Planning, Design Management, Comprehensive Planning, Sustainable Design, and Urban Design.
Strong arts and design professional with a MSc UD focused in Urban Design from Bartlett , University College London.
Andre is a registered AILA Landscape Architect with 20 years of experience in construction & landscape architecture in the Middle East and Australia. He is a design manager of the urban built environment, covering large mixed use developments, institutions, public realm, streetscapes, infrastructure, parks and recreational and leisure projects, including stadiums and tourism. Projects delivered by Andre such as Al Maryah Island, Haza Bin Zayed Stadium, Akoya and Qatar Science Technology Park are proof of his ability to create, manage and deliver the design of some iconic spaces from complex briefs.
Andre has been involved in managing various local and global in house team members and numerous consultancy teams delivering intelligent, creative, robust designs for various real-estate projects. Andre has been a fundamental part of designing, coordinating and delivering these iconic public and private built spaces.
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.
Rob has over 25 year's 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 knowledge 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jason Turner is a Professional Landscape Architect with 25 years’ experience, including 10 years as a Landscape Contractor, in selling, designing, procuring and managing the implementation of a variety of landscape projects, from residential homes to housing developments, corporate head offices, campuses, farms, town and urban design development. A Certified Permaculture Designer and student of Allan Savory's Holistic Management, Jason is passionate about Sustainability within our cities, the role of cities as emergent ecosystems and their role in the challenges facing humanity in the immediate future.
“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.
Farid Esmaeil studied architecture at the American University of Sharjah School of Design 1997 - 2003. He cofounded X–Architects in 2003 in Dubai, over the past 13 years, the office has developed an international reputation with significant diverse portfolio of projects ranging work, from masterplans, civic and cultural buildings, offices and residential buildings to private houses. X-architects believes in design as a process.
The Studio research into creating a built environment that is adaptive and contextual. Our sensible, yet critical design approach recognizes the inherent complexity in modern day building and harnesses this complexity to produce projects that are culturally robust, place sensitive and environmentally friendly.
His work has been recognized internationally through various awards. He was awarded the Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction 2008, the Arc Middle-East award for Architecture 2009 and 2010, the Cityscape Award for Sustainable master plan. Farid has lectured and in various universities and institutions worldwide and he is a regular guest critic. He was a speaker at TEDx in Abu Dhabi, Harvard University, University of Toronto and Doha Architecture Forum. He exhibited and contributed to Venice Biennale 2008, 2014 and 2016, Louisiana museum of modern Art and Archiprix.
In August 2019, Farid Esmaeil and X Architects team have received the prestigious award of Aga Khan for Architecture 2019 on their project Wasit Natural Reserve Visitor Center.
Janus Rostock is an architect, urban designer & master planner with +20 years’ experience.
Specializing in holistic design on complex multidisciplinary projects and masterplans, he has proven expertise in a wide variety of projects including the Dubai Opera project and its district, masterplanning, low rise office buildings, high rise residential towers, hotels, education, and transport.
Having received his M. Arch from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture, Copenhagen, after having spent a year at l’Ecole d’Architecture de Paris Belleville, Paris, Rostock worked for multi award winning firms Henning Larsen Architects and KHR.
He moved to Dubai and joining Atkins in 2006, where he was part of the team delivering the Dubai Promenade and Cape Town Waterfront masterplan. In 2008 he moved back to Denmark as Associate Design Director to start up Atkins’ Architecture and Design department in Copenhagen.
Following this spell he once again returned to the UAE in 2011 and is now responsible for leading Atkins’ Middle East Architecture and Urban Design team.
His achievements so far include: -
Rostock has accumulated extensive international experience as the lead concept designer on projects and master plans in the U.A.E, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, India, Azerbaijan, Angola, Kenya, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Ahmed Soleiman Aqel is Head of Landscape & Irrigation (projects) Department at Engineering Office (a Semi-Government Company), with 17 years of UAE experience in Construction industry. Mr. Aqel has worked on more than 450 Royal Private Projects with positive team management and client satisfaction. His areas of expertise include Landscape Designing, Quality Management, Project Management, Financial/Contracts Administration, Infrastructure, MEP activities and other Construction activities.
Dealing with Construction plants and equipment has added more value to his profession. He played a vital role in value engineering reviews to achieve cost saving and meet project goals and objectives.
Mr. Aqel is a Master in Business Administration specialized in Construction Project Management from University Of Atlanta, Georgia-USA and graduate of BS in Civil Building & Construction Engineering from University Of Technology, Baghdad-Iraq.
Splitting her time between the Hollywood and Dubai offices, Mi Sun oversees numerous projects worldwide, bridging communication with clients and consultants. Working at a city scale, she guides her team through the arduous months and years each development takes to reach completion. She recognizes the duty these projects serve in dynamically shaping future communities and imparts this understanding onto her designers. The growth of a successful, nimble city over years of work is inspirational to her and she relishes in the completion of each project. Despite numerous creative, successful projects, Mi Sun says for her greatest accomplishments, keep watching.
Boris Fabinski is a Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner with over 15 years of experience in landscape and urban design and environmental planning with a particular focus on integrated and sustainable design solutions.
He joined SSH in July 2016 as Principal Landscape Architect in Dubai and is overlooking the Landscape and Public Realm Design in the MENA region.
Boris was previously managing the design development of landscape and the public realm designs for flagship developments like the “Town Square Dubai” for the Developer Nshama as Director Landscape and the design and construction of public parks, streetscapes and open spaces for the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City as a consultant to the General Managers Office of the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City and its Parks and Recreational Facilities Directorate (PRFD).
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.
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.
Noor is a highly motivated chartered, senior landscape architect with 9 years’ experience in both landscape planning and design. Successfully managing a variety of projects, passionate about masterplanning, urban design and green infrastructure related schemes in the U.K and internationally. Noor has worked on several projects in Dubai, Libya and Qatar ranging from concept design and masterplanning through to detailed design.
*Speakers to be confirmed
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