The who’s who of the industry attended the Design Middle East Forum 2023, as the leading industry veterans participated in one of the major networking, mind-engaging, and knowledge-sharing platforms.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to breathtaking architecture, amazing designs, and unfathomable creativity.

This year’s discussions focussed on how COP28 provides an opportune opportunity to rethink, reboot, and refocus the climate agenda. Climate technology, global stocktake, sustainability, and other vital agenda topics are all on the table. The panellists discussed how this massive event will affect the design and architecture industries.

COP28 Panel featured Krystal Goretti Fernandes, Project Manager at Summertown Interiors; Noelle Halabi, Associate Edge Architects; Rita Estephan, Chief Operating Officer, Motif Interiors; Christian Merieau, Managing Director & Partner MMAC Associates; Ralf Steinhauer, Director, RSP; and Dr Bhakti More, Chairperson, School of Design & Architecture, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Dubai moderated the discussion.

Second, the experts discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to substantially increase the efficiency and efficacy of several elements of the building design and construction process, but it is vital to understand the technology’s current limitations and ethical implications. Without a doubt, artificial intelligence can improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of building design and construction operations. However, it is unlikely to replace the requirement for human invention, monitoring, and adaptation in the construction industry. The panellists emphasised that in order to get the best results, the most promising applications of AI in construction will most likely involve collaboration between AI systems and human workers.

The AI panel included Justin Wells, CEO, Wells International; Dr Chadi Chamoun, Director of Innovation and Development, Bond Interiors; Enayat Ghaedi, Associate Director, RMJM; Rasha Al Tekreeti, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Waru; and the panel was moderated by Firas Alshin, Co-Founder and Design Director at 4SPACE.

We also had a one-on-one talk with Manu Abraham, Co-Founder of Aujan Interiors, during this year’s forum, who recounted his decade-long career in the fit-out and turnkey solutions area. He addressed critical challenges facing the sector, such as a lack of standardised job quality or potential for both in-house employees and subcontractors. He also discussed how design concepts must be aligned with budget constraints and project feasibility; how fluctuating material prices due to global factors affect project quality; and how ongoing trainings and incorporating sustainability practices ensure success.