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20 regional experts share insights at inaugural Critical Infrastructure Summit

The event featured three panel discussions and two presentations, and explored a variety of topics connected with regional infrastructure

The inaugural Critical Infrastructure Summit took place on 8 May at the Two Seasons Hotel in Dubai, and recorded over 120 professionals in attendance, the Big Project Middle East (BPME) team confirmed. The event was officially endorsed by The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The event focused on a variety of topics relating to regional airports, advanced aerial mobility (AAM), data centres, seaports, and urban mobility, and explored how cities and infrastructure can be engineered to become more resilient to extreme weather events.

Delegates and speakers included industry bodies, developers & operators, as well as construction and engineering stakeholders, the editorial team said.

The event was opened by Jason Saundalkar, Head of Content at Big Project Middle East, following which the first session of the day took place. The ‘Data Centres – The Backbone of a Digital World’ panel discussion was moderated by Engi Jaber, CEO/Managing Director at Climatize, while panelists included Hassan Younes, Co – CEO & Founder at grfn, Lewis Wright, Project Director at PMKConsult, Qusay Abu-Abed, Regional Sales Manager, MENA & Data Center in-Charge at Danfoss Turkey Middle East and Africa, Suhail Arfath, CEO at Hloov, and Tinboat Arslanouk, Senior Director Partner Strategy and Growth at Khazna Data Centers.

The first presentation of the day saw Chandra Dake, Group CEO at Dake Group Limited give a presentation on harnessing the principles of sponge cities, to create urban landscapes that can not only withstand new climate realities but also thrive within them.

The second panel discussion ‘Resilient connections: Airports & Seaports in Focus’ was moderated by Katarina Uherova Hasbani, Partner and Global Director of Strategy and Advisory at AESG. Her panelists included: Dr. Rana El-Dabaa, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Heriot-Watt University Dubai, Dr. Talia Sherrard, Regional Director Strategic Sales & Marketing, MEI at Fugro, Fabien Jean Pierre Loy, Associate Engineer at Buro Happold, Laith Haboubi, Vice President – Middle East Region at Vector Corrosion Middle East Services, and Rhona Hunter, Managing Director at Hunter Horizon Consulting.

That session was followed by the second presentation on the development of Dubai’s commercial AAM network. Daniel O’Neill, Regional Manager – Middle East at Skyports Infrastructure took delegates through milestones that have been achieved from an operational, regulatory and development perspective, and outlined what the next 18 months of effort would entail ahead of the network’s 2026 launch goal.

The third panel discussion ‘Developing state of the art urban mobility in the GCC’ was moderated by Samya Ghosh, Practice Director, Strategic Planning & Advisory at AECOM. His panelists included: Mohammad Shamlouli, Geographic Information Systems Manager at Insite, Nadeem Shakir, Regional Director – Transport & Mobility Planning at Zutari Engineering International PTY Limited – Dubai Branch, Shane Mitchell, Director, Advisory EMEA at Parsons, Steven Velegrinis, Design Director and Regional Head of Cities Practice at Gensler, and Stuart Watts, Senior Transportation Engineer at KEO International Consultants.

“Following months of planning for the Critical Infrastructure Summit, it was immensely satisfying to be on the ground, and hear the brilliant insights shared by all our speakers. I couldn’t be happier with the discussions and presentations that took place through the day, and it was great to see that we retained the majority of our audience right through to the end of the day. Infrastructure is a hugely important topic, and I look forward to covering works done on existing and new projects in the coming months. Thanks to our sponsors, valued speakers and delegates for making yesterday a success,” said Saundalkar.

The event was supported by:

Gold Sponsor: KEO International Consultants
Strategic Content Partner: ALEC
Silver Sponsor: AECOM

Read more about the Critical Infrastructure Summit by clicking here.

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