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074 REPORT / MIDDLE EAST
HEADS IN
THE CLOUDS?
As economic downturn ricochets across the world,
Liz Moody reflects on the state of play in the
Middle East and its affect on the architectural
lighting that is shaping the region
In recent times, the mere mention of the tants established offices and manufactur- Vowles agrees: “Dubai has been hit the
Middle East and the lighting circuit would ers flocked to the region; some opening hardest with nearly 80% of projects on hold
descend into a positive furore; the gump- branches to provide on-the-ground support or cancelled, though with that said one has
tion of bold leaders and wealthy develop- to the promising business potential. to remember how much construction was
ers, their grand publicised masterplans As the inset of the global financial downturn taking place here; there is still enough work
– plus their apparent limitless funds to make firmly took hold and recession dominoed in the 20% of ongoing projects.”
the visions reality – ensured the GCC coun- through the US, UK and others alike, many Nowhere, it would seem, is recession proof
tries were catapulted to the forefront of looked upon the Middle East to withstand and therefore it is hardly surprising that
the construction industry and accolades for the crisis - perhaps even make up the slack projects are placed on hold as developers
the edificial achievements swiftly followed. from domestic shortfalls. tighten their belts in preparation for the
We all witnessed the developments which The high expectation of a utopia paved worse; Dubai with the most projects from
set the world talking; from the inconceiv- with never-ending golden projects and the the out start was undoubtedly going to be
able construction of Palm Jumeriah, the region’s initial bullishness that all was well the one to suffer the most significant drop.
Grand Mosque, Bahrain’s wind turbined appeared to have been optimistic; falter- Ziad Fattouh, Senior Principal at one of the
World Trade Center and record breaking ing somewhat in passing months as stories region’s prominent local lighting consul-
skyscrapers; realised at mindboggling veloc- of projects placed indefinitely on hold, tants, Delta Lighting Solutions states: “In
ity. or even cancelled began to immerge. The the UAE we have seen one of the largest
Each day brought the unveiling of yet an- backlash particularly hit Dubai’s residen- market slowdowns primarily because it
other ambitious project to surpass the last tial market as drops in prices followed and was the market with the most projects and
– often before work had even commenced slumps in sales occurred. some of the most design and financially
on its predecessor. With this, recognition So, how is architectural lighting fairing in ambitious projects.”
grew for architectural lighting as a legiti- the Middle East? Across many areas there has been a change
mate discipline within the region. Lighting Mark Vowles, Business Development of mood, people appear to have lost a little
professionals brought a new dimension to Manager of Debbas International explains confidence and are waiting to see how
the buildings and lighting quickly became an his outlook on the situation. “There has the global market forces will change the
instrumental medium for developers com- certainly been a dramatic decline in some economic approach. Taking this into consid-
peting for landmark acknowledgement. areas of the Middle East; projects are going eration it would be easy for the rest of the
With countries such as the UAE and its go- one of two ways, either they are on hold/ world to assume the bubble had burst, yet
getting emirate Dubai growing with such cancelled, or the developers are trying to it should be viewed more as realignment.
phenomenal speed, not only did the latest fast track to get cash out of the project.” “Dubai has been the most affected due to
launch bring the assurance of growing sales Nathan Savage, associate at dpa Lighting its sharp and dramatic growth, yet it is still
potential but, deliciously, the enviable pros- Consultants, explains his viewpoint. “We moving forward… just at a more relative
pect of illuminating the historic landmarks have all seen a slowdown throughout the and realistic speed,” adds Richard Holmes,
and iconic structures of our generation. world, within the Gulf region this seems to Business Development Director of iGuzzini
Local and international lighting consul- be particularly prevalent in Dubai.” Middle East.
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