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A high-quality office environment will entice 'knowledge economy' companies to set up in Abu Dhabi.
A high-quality office environment will entice 'knowledge economy' companies to set up in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi must invest in office environment

If Abu Dhabi is to realise its ambition of becoming a major global metropolis then it must provide a comfortable environment for a creative workforce.

Abu Dhabi has aspirations to become a global city - a modern, dynamic place that brings together people and businesses from across the world.

It will become an increasingly balanced economy - imagine a mix of Houston and New York - combining the historical strengths of its oil and gas industry with a diversified business centre of international and local companies.

The 2030 Abu Dhabi Economic Plan identifies strategically important sectors that would fit well with the city, such as aerospace, electronics, media and renewable energy technology. All are considered key drivers of future growth, creating the bulk of new jobs over the next 50 years. This plan to develop clusters of expertise is reminiscent of civic development strategies at Silicon Valley, Boston and Singapore, traditionally favoured locations for knowledge businesses.

Attracting such organisations can be a challenge. As information technology advances, ties that have historically kept businesses close to their key markets are breaking down.

So what is it that makes one city more attractive than another to these expanding industries? And how can Abu Dhabi make sure it is the foremost choice?

There are several factors that companies consider when deciding where to make their home. Transport links, housing and lifestyle, research and higher education facilities, available finance, government incentives and communication networks all play important parts. To this list we must add a further consideration - the physical work environment, offices, cubicles, buildings and mobile workplaces in which knowledge workers ply their trade.

A 2002 study by the consulting firm Accenture found that physical environment was the number one priority for organisations looking to improve the performance of high-end knowledge workers (the other common ones were information technology and management). The introduction of a new workspace was most often the catalyst for a broad redesign of the working environment.

There are many examples of organisations designing new offices with the intention of encouraging more collaborative working cultures. It is difficult to achieve the balance between providing workers with sufficient space to concentrate and ensuring easy communication and interaction, but finding it can result in spectacular increases in productivity.

It is therefore an imperative that for Abu Dhabi's proposition as a knowledge-business hub to be taken seriously, flexible world-class office environments must be available in abundance.

Yet the vast majority of commercial office space currently available in Abu Dhabi does not fulfil these needs. At Aldar we are focused on remedying this shortage, supporting the performance goals of organisations within the "knowledge economy". In commercial developments such as Al Mamoura and HQ, which is now complete and ready for occupation, our aim is to provide creative spaces that enable workforces to deliver.

In creating our commercial developments, we have placed our highest priority on tailoring the working environment to fit future business needs, achieving a balance of communication and collaboration while providing the space to concentrate.

At the top of the range buildings such as HQ have the flexibility to accommodate all the human (modular space design, natural daylight, positive working environment, on-site staff services) and technological (raised access flooring, inbuilt IT & communications infrastructure, back-up power capability, supplementary airconditioning supply, increased floor loadings) aspects of the high-performance jigsaw in the knowledge economy.

It is this flexibility that will stand Aldar's commercial buildings in good stead as demand grows for high-quality office space in Abu Dhabi.

We are focused on creating the conditions that develop the infrastructure to attract knowledge-based companies to Abu Dhabi. As we implement the Government of Abu Dhabi's economic plan aimed at promoting a "knowledge economy", a high-quality office environment has never been more important.


Mohammed al Mubarak is the chief commercial officer at Aldar Properties

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