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News Release


Increasing awareness of need to create more sustainable buildings and communities in the Middle East & North Africa region

JLL MENA, the world's leading real estate investment and advisory firm, has today released a new report

​​​​​​JLL MENA, the world's leading real estate investment and advisory firm, has today released a new report – Sustainability in the MENA Real Estate Market - Walking the Talk – that assesses the region’s response to the global debate surrounding the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the built environment. It concludes that whilst there has been a growing dialogue and increased awareness of the need to create more sustainable buildings and communities in the region, progress on converting this into greener construction and building practices has been limited compared to that in more mature markets elsewhere in the world.

Commenting on the report, Alan Robertson, CEO of JLL MENA, Middle East & North Africa, said: “The MENA region faces a unique set of challenges and issues in terms of sustainable buildings and cities. For example, our water shortage is mitigated by costly desalination and we are faced with high water consumption which leads to a higher carbon footprint and ultimately impacts climate change. The fast pace of urban development, along with the short term and cost conscious focus of many regional real estate stakeholders are also limiting the uptake of sustainability initiatives and the more widespread development of sustainable buildings and communities.”

While sustainability is still in its infancy in the Middle East, we are seeing increased signs that real estate stakeholders are now adopting more initiatives. It is hugely encouraging to see initiatives like Masdar City and Estidama setting the sustainability agenda in the region. The combination of such initiatives, along with greater government legislation and an increased awareness of the financial  premium associated with green buildings, will provide a further impetus towards the concept of sustainability.’’

Summary Highlights:

  • While there has been increased talk about the importance of creating more sustainable buildings and cities within MENA, progress on converting this talk into concrete action continues to lag behind that in more mature markets.

  • Four factors lie behind the limited progress on creating sustainable developments in MENA to date:

    1. Lack of legislation to enforce change and introduce new practices in most markets.
    2. Absence of any discernable financial premium.
    3. Subsidised energy, water and waste disposal costs.
    4. Limited awareness of environmental issues.

  • There is growing evidence of the significant advantages that more sustainable real estate confers on developers, occupiers and investors in overseas markets and these advantages are likely to become more widely recognised in the Middle East over the next five years.

  • The UAE remains the clear market leader within the Middle East, with a much lower awareness of the need for more sustainable buildings elsewhere in the region.

  • All three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) must be addressed to create truly sustainable buildings and communities.

Craig Plumb, Head of Research for JLL MENA in MENA, further added: ‘’Sustainability has been more widely adopted  in the real estate sector of more mature western countries where there is a growing body of evidence to show that green buildings result in financial benefits to owners and occupiers through lower operational costs, higher rentals and values as well as a lower obsolescence risk. Global corporate occupiers are also increasingly recognising the attraction of green buildings in terms of lower service charges and increased productivity and staff morale. Western governments such as France, USA, UK and Australia have also introduced and enforced sustainability friendly legislation and this has nurtured a clearly defined premium which attracts more stakeholders.

The combination of stricter environmental legislation and greater awareness of a sustainable premium will drive increased attention on more sustainable building practices in the Middle East over the next 10 years. The identification of sustainability as one of three main themes in Dubai’s bid for Expo 2020 is encouraging in this regard. As stakeholders we all have a social responsibility to continuously encourage proactive debate and further research into this critically important space.’’