Effective Strategies to Enhance Riyadh’s Built Environment

Saud Mohamed Al Sulaymani, Country Head, JLL Saudi Arabia, talks about how the real estate industry must rally together to make Riyadh a more human-centric, sustainable and innovative city.,
Saud Mohamed Al Sulaymani | UAE | Property Management

In line with Vision 2030 to transform Riyadh into one of the most sustainable cities in the world, the real estate industry must proactively contribute towards shaping a more human-centric, sustainable and innovative city, revealed JLL at a roundtable held recently in the capital. This will be essential not only in long-term asset value creation, but also in future-proofing assets and in value preservation.

In the last five years alone, sustainability efforts in the Kingdom’s real estate sector have advanced significantly to positively impact liveability. Beyond building certifications, sustainability initiatives now include data capture, disclosure and benchmarking. As a key player in driving green innovation in real estate, the Kingdom has delivered on its commitment to sustainable development through key initiatives such as the Mostadam and Saaf® Certification Program, and the ambitious retrofitting of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs building in Riyadh.

Under the theme ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s Cities Today: Sustainability and Smart Cities’, JLL shared insights on retrofitting strategies and technologies to revitalise existing urban infrastructure; green financing to pave the way for responsible investments in cities; and the latest trends, innovations, and best practices in creating cities that are environmentally friendly, socially inclusive, and economically viable.

Commenting on the need for smart and sustainable urban developments, Saud Alsulaimani, Country Head of KSA at JLL, said: “Today, decarbonisation of the built environment is no longer up for debate. As governments continue to push for sustainable development, real estate stakeholders are increasingly aware of the critical role they play in driving progress to shape the future of real estate in the Kingdom.”

“Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of mega-city construction, with over 5,200 ongoing projects worth $819 billion. From NEOM’s THE LINE project, a $500 billion smart city powered entirely by clean energy, to The Red Sea project, a luxury regenerative tourism destination, the Kingdom has made a mark for itself on the global stage. At JLL, we shape the future of real estate for a better world by focusing on sustainability to help fight against climate change and deliver long-term returns. In line with this, we are committed to supporting Saudi Arabia’s sustainability ambition as it focuses on not only meeting sustainability goals, but also transforming the landscape of our cities and our planet for generations to come,” he added.

Highlighting the role of retrofitting to address climate change, Louise Collins, Head of Project & Development Services at JLL Middle East & Africa, added, “With a staggering 1 billion square metres of office space requiring retrofitting to align with decarbonisation targets globally, it is clear that retrofitting is imperative for a more sustainable future. As Saudi Arabia pledges to reach Net Zero emissions and significantly invests in renewable energy projects, retrofitting is a step in the right direction to minimise carbon emissions. Achieving Net Zero in the built environment is a complex challenge, but we have the technology, systems, and means to get there today. Undoubtedly, it is a collective effort; every stakeholder has a critical role to play in accelerating decarbonisation to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Concluding the event, Alida Saleh, Head of Sustainability at JLL for the Middle East & Africa, said: “Sustainable finance holds the key to the success of future projects in the realm of sustainability and smart cities. Investments in sustainability, through mechanisms like Green Sukuk and Green Bonds, are pivotal to realise smart cities and green building projects.  Banks are increasing green financing options to support organisations that are decarbonising their real estate portfolio towards achieving net-zero commitments. With a strong push from the government and increasing awareness about climate change impacts, green finance is expected to grow significantly in the MENA region in the coming years.”

JLL was one of the first real estate consultancies to establish itself in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with remarkable growth since over a decade ago with offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar. With over 300 employees in the Kingdom as of today, it has supported the Saudi vision and has successfully advised some of the Kingdom’s biggest real estate developments and Giga projects including the King Abdullah Financial District, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Non-Profit City, and other landmark projects by the Diriyah Gate ‍Development Authority.

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