UAE real estate primed for fourth industrial revolution impact as innovative technology steps into the fore

  • Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference speakers call upon industry to embrace and encourage disruption in the market

Middle East real estate is ripe for disruption and must wake up to the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, real estate experts in the UAE have said.

Speaking ahead of their participation in the Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference, 17 April at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre under the theme Re-Writing the Rule Book, senior professionals from the worlds of architecture, IT and law are urging the industry to embrace innovative technology now.

Richard Fenne, Principal at architectural firm Woods Bagot believes we are witnessing an unprecedented change in the pace in which the real estate sector is fuelled by technology.  “New technology tools and construction techniques are constantly entering the market,” he said.

“Embracing them and using them effectively is vital and can help meet the changing demands of the market.   Compared to other industries, the construction sector is woefully under-investing in research and development at an average of less than 1% of revenue.

“The infusion of technology firms and their funding into this market will have a profound impact on the way projects are realised.  98% of large construction projects are delivered, on average 80% over budget and 20 months late.  The speed of execution and instant successes are the norm for clients who are operating in an increasingly interconnected world.”

One of the most eagerly anticipated discussions at the Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference is ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution: How Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Internet of Things Can Create New Possibilities in the Real Estate Industry’, taking place in the afternoon of the conference.

Andrew Rippon, an Independent Blockchain Consultant, believes that Abu Dhabi’s next stage of development is in making the experience of purchasing, managing and selling property a smoother experience.  “This means that the various government stakeholders involved need to advance the governance and technology of a Smart City to the next level, a world beating level,” he said.

“These steps could include a fully digital land registry and purchase processes, based on Blockchain technology, which would enable a faster, more secure fully digital experience in real estate transactions.  Imagine being able to transact real estate from anywhere in the world.  This would open the possibility of more investment channels, while controlling security through elements such as digital identities.

“The end result would be more international investors participating in Abu Dhabi real estate, while local government and industry would be more efficient.  In practice, a European investor could buy property through their mobile phone, never leaving their country.  They could also buy a portion of a property, using tokenisation, which allows for a property to be divided up and reduces the barrier of entry to the market.

“So while Blockchain is a relatively new phenomenon and will require much governance, technical and industry acceptance work, it is here to stay and will change the whole of the real estate purchase experience and market.”

In 2018, real estate practitioners are expected to continue adopting and investing in technologies that give consumers more options, a clearer picture, and integrated data that help them make buying and selling choices.  Examples of these are new payment methods through Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence to help process data and offer advance notice on real estate related patterns which affect market prices, and the marketing implications of virtual reality to help buyers discover properties before even visiting them.

Dr. Nicolas Bremer, LL.B., Partner at law firm Alexander & Partner, believes digitalisation offers attractive solutions to a range of challenges faced in the real estate industry.  He said, “This trend has significantly changed the way asset and property management is conducted.  The increasing concentration of real estate holding requires the streaming of processes in real estate management.”

Other prominent speakers at the Conference include Chris Seymour, Managing Director of Mott Macdonald; Saqr Ereiqat, Senior Managing Consultant and Blockchain evangelist at IBM; Maysa Sabah, MENA Managing Director at The Affordable Housing Institute; Sameh Muhtadi, CEO for Bloom Holding; and Mohammad Al Fardan, Director of Masdar Free Zone.

The four main sessions on the day are:

  1. Real Estate Industry Trends in 2018: Adjusting to the New Normal
  2. The 4th Industrial Revolution: How Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and Internet of Things Can Create New Possibilities in the Real Estate Industry
  3. Investment in Abu Dhabi: What? Who? Where and How?
  4. Affordable Housing: The Lower and Mid-Income Tenant’s Dream

The Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference is free to attend by invitation only. To be considered, register and submit details through the Cityscape Abu Dhabi website,  Confirmations will only be sent out to candidates once they have been shortlisted.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi returns with support from Platinum Sponsor Azizi Developments and Gold Sponsor ARADA. The Cityscape Abu Dhabi Conference is supported by Gold Sponsor Kohler and Silver Sponsor ADCP. For more information visit:

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