The pressing need for social infrastructure development to accommodate all tiers of society was the theme for an address delivered by architect and urban design expert Steven Miller, Senior VP Business Development for global engineering and construction firm, Shapoorji Pallonji at the Qatar Projects conference, which took place recently.
Miller called for private developers and regional governments to look at the integration of master planning for sustainable communities as part of long-term economic vision, as the Gulf in particular continues to develop a multi-layered society.
“Most private developers still only want to look at the five-star villa and luxury apartment market, and with Gulf countries like Qatar undergoing a dramatic transformation as they move towards their respective 2030 vision, the current social infrastructure is simply not acceptable. Ongoing government support is a vital catalyst in extending co-operation between public bodies and free enterprise to create communities that can accommodate broad social strata,” he said.
Shapoorji Pallonji is currently working on a group of high profile social infrastructure-focused projects within Qatar, and is using its international pedigree and experience through successful client projects, from South Asia and West Africa to the MENA region, as a benchmark for business development in the affordable housing and community arena.
S.P. Qatar Projects include Mosques, high schools, kindergarten and nurseries, community centers, health clubs, playgrounds, play fields, and local retail amenities facilities.
“Because we have worked on similar projects on different continents, we have a thorough understanding of the specific needs and customs of different countries, so while the discipline is essentially the same, the individual components that come together to present socially acceptable and affordable housing, need to be tailored for each country in line with government direction,” said Miller.
Mr. Mohan Das Saini, CEO of Shapoorji Pallonji, notes “That these social infrastructure projects are wonderful opportunities for our company to show our depth and breath in the design and building of housing as well as total neighborhoods and communities.”
“Qatar and the UAE, which both have a significant expatriate population, aren’t the only MENA region countries addressing social infrastructure development. Affordable housing is becoming an agenda-topping issue from Algeria and Iraq to Libya and Saudi Arabia,” remarked Miller.
“We’re not just talking laborer accommodation either. Well designed and well cared for accommodation is equally important for lower middle class singles and families who make up a sizeable part of the Gulf expatriate population, as well as middle class semi-professional and professional families who need cost-effective accommodation solutions as the cost of living in the region continues to rise,” he added. Additionally in countries such as KSA, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Algeria public housing programs for local residents providing affordable homes must be increased and exhilarated.
Headquartered in Mumbai, India, Shapoorji Pallonji has an engineering and construction pedigree spanning almost 150 years and annual turnover of US$2.5 billion, with a project portfolio of Design-Build and Standard Construction covering multi-asset class developments in India, the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria, Kuwait and Sri Lanka.