Interviews

Building the Blueprint for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Diamond Developers’ CEO Salah Habib shares his vision of transforming urban landscapes into sustainable, eco-friendly communities and what makes The Sustainable City – Yiti a truly pioneering, groundbreaking project for Oman

The Sustainable City – Yiti (TSCY) is a billion-dollar development that aims to support the goals of Oman Vision 2040, as well as the National Tourism Strategy, by creating a live-work-thrive city, that is green, energy efficient, and people-centric.

Spearheaded by Diamond Developers in partnership with Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN Group), the project – once complete – will consist of 300 villas, 1,225 apartments and 132 luxury serviced apartments, along with a number of community focused facilities and amenities. The project is expected to house 10,000 residents once it has been fully delivered.

For Salah Habib, CEO of Diamond Developers, sustainability is not simply an abstract concept or target to aspire for – it is a guiding principle that shapes every decision that the developer makes. As the CEO, Habib is steadfast in his commitment to ensuring the company fulfils its mission ‘to build and maintain sustainable, evidence-driven and intelligent cities’, all designed to contribute towards climate neutrality and circular economy, while maximising favourable economic returns on investments for their stakeholders.

The Sustainable City – Yiti is a testament to this; Habib says the project embodies their pledge to Oman’s sustainability objectives, and stands in full alignment with the country’s vision of delivering an emission-neutral city that provides a green, energy-efficient, and people-centric environment for its residents to live, work, and thrive.

“Oman’s Vision 2040 paints a clear path towards a diversified, inclusive, and sustainable national economy, with the aim to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050. With bold ambitions to become the largest operational sustainable community in the region and the first Net Zero emissions city in Oman by 2040, The Sustainable City – Yiti will extend the blueprint that we have been developing and continue to act as a living proof-of-concept of The Sustainable City brand,” says Habib.

Design for Energy Efficiency and Reduced Carbon Emissions

To achieve their overarching vision, Habib says the community aims to reduce its residents’ per capita carbon footprint by at least 75% compared to conventional living conditions in Oman, among other significant contributions. To achieve this, it is essential to prioritise energy efficiency and reducing carbon emissions for which Habib notes, “the key to this contribution resides in the planning phase”.

“Each step in our design and construction processes is carefully planned to uphold our commitment to sustainability and to implement the highest standards across social, environmental and economic sustainability,” he adds.

Elaborating on how the developer approaches this, Habib explains that they optimise demand-side management by combining passive and active design across the master plan, improving energy efficiency and lowering carbon emissions.

“When it comes to product selection. We consider upstream and downstream emissions, choosing products with high lifecycles and, where possible, sourced locally, which cuts down on long-term costs. Habib points out that his firm is also committed to off-setting embodied and operational carbon emissions, which is considered at the planning stage.

“Finally, we employ recycled materials to build playgrounds, tracks, and other community facilities, as well as include precast wall panels into our construction process to reduce waste,” he states.

Renewable Energy Sources

The Sustainable City – Yiti is also bold in its mission to enable residents to achieve up to 100% energy bill savings, and introduce high-efficiency water systems that could reduce water bills by as much as 50%. Habib notes there are two ways they will harness renewable energy. The first is installing solar panels on rooftops and biogas plants that convert organic waste into energy.

“The community will be equipped with smart systems such as micro-grids to enable off-grid and positive energy capabilities, which include energy storage solutions. Smart systems also provide residents with the ability to share power,” he elaborates.

Salah Habib, CEO of Diamond Developers.

Within the project, Habib says water efficiency is at the core of its environmental strategies across The Sustainable City brand. The developer is exploring the use of water conservation systems and technologies to source potable water from alternate sources such as seawater and ambient humidity, which can be harvested and mineralised to produce safe drinking water.

“Wastewater will be recycled, and landscaping will be irrigated using treated sewage effluent,” he points out before adding that the buildings are equipped with state-of-the-art water installations and low-flow fixtures to conserve water effectively.

“We truly take pride in our 100% water recycling and reuse targets, whereby all used water in our communities is treated and repurposed for the irrigation of our green landscapes. Further enhancing our commitment to sustainability, we’ve embraced cutting-edge humidity harvesting technologies, allowing us to produce drinking water from the air around us,” he remarks.

Moreover, Habib says the innovative design of the 1,657 residential units within the project ensures that they are all equipped with energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, and smart home systems, resulting in significant savings in consumption and utility bills.

“These savings are largely dependent on the residents’ resource utilisation. The more environment-conscious the residents are, the more they save. As such, residents have a big role to play in optimising their savings. To help them maximise these, a lot of our efforts are focused on raising awareness and educating residents – and the larger general public – about sustainable living and sustainability best practices,” he highlights.

Habib also says homes in their cities are likely to have a higher resale value in the coming years, given the growing demand for sustainable, energy-efficient living spaces, which reduce carbon footprint and, as such, have lower operational costs. “This makes a compelling case for considering more sustainable developments when looking to invest in property and real estate,” he adds.

Comprehensive Sustainability in Amenities and Facilities

Underlining their live-work-thrive philosophy, Habib tells BPME that Diamond Developers is also committed to bringing together a vibrant community. “Everything from retail, dining, hospitality, leisure, healthcare, education, jobs and services will be available at The Sustainable City – Yiti. Minimising the need to leave the community and therefore slashing the collective emissions of the community even further,” he comments.

The Sustainable City – Yiti will be home to a sustainable school and nursery, SEE Lab and Institute, an autism centre, two hotels, a wellness centre, an equestrian club, a sports complex, a plaza, and a ‘green’ mosque, to name a few.

“The design of the community aims to enhance residents’ well-being through an expansive urban landscape and green spine that will contribute to biodiversity and improve air quality,” he says.

Shaded sikkas and porous pavements are set to reduce heat islands and create social spaces for neighbours and children to gather. Combined with the car-free spaces around the residential areas, this will enhance walkability and encourage residents to use clean mobility such as bicycles or electric buggies.”

At the end of the day, Habib says residents are at the heart of the communities. “It is invaluable for us to promote a culture of sustainability amongst them. We make sure to regularly engage with them through community events and communication portals, with the aim to maintain the highest quality of life with the lowest emissions. We also actively involve residents in urban farming programs and encourage waste separation at source, to name a few examples,” he emphasises.

A Booming Market for Sustainable Living

Habib firmly believes the project is another sterling example of how the Sustainable City brand has achieved remarkable success across different cities. He points out that the original project in Dubai has been at full occupancy for over four years, with a long waiting list of aspiring residents. Currently in its fourth phase of sales, their development in Sharjah has also achieved strong sales performances and entirely sold out the first two phases. Earlier this year, the groundbreaking of The Sustainable City – Yas Island in Abu Dhabi saw the units entirely sold out within 24 hours of the sales announcement.

Sustainable living solutions are in strong and increasing demand in the region and around the globe, says Habib. He notes, “These achievements are true testaments to the market’s trust in and recognition of SEE Holding’s expertise in delivering high-quality, eco-friendly urban developments.”

Expanding Sustainability Across the GCC Region

For Habib, the developer’s ongoing work is just the beginning of its journey. He explains, “The vision behind The Sustainable City has always been to create a blueprint for future cities. It took over four years of extensive research and in-depth studying of existing sustainable urban development models around the world to come up with an integrated model that encompasses all aspects of sustainability: a concept that is resilient, replicable, and future-proof.”

Habib adds that this is why they partner with like-minded institutions and pioneers as they aim to replicate The Sustainable City model, not only across the GCC region but across continents. He says this is why they have recently consolidated their services, expertise, and portfolio of subsidiaries into SEE Holding. Through this consolidation, Diamond Developers will design, invest in, and build sustainable cities and infrastructures worldwide to amplify their social, environmental, and economic impact.

“Our ambitions are on a global scale. We’re spearheading the way towards a Net Zero emissions future by inspiring, enabling, and empowering partners in the region and around the world to adopt sustainable solutions and embrace knowledge-sharing initiatives. Making a real impact and driving change needs global solidarity, and we can’t do it alone,” he concludes.

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