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Dubai must overhaul business parks to attract global technology companies, Savills says

Dubai’s string of glass-fronted, out-of-town business parks is becoming too outdated for the digital age, a new report from the property broker Savills warns.

If it wants to attract the next big global economic driving force – a new generation of global technology companies – the city needs to change the way that it zones its property developments and create more pedestrian-friendly, “human-scale workplaces” such as can be found in London’s Shoreditch or New York’s Union Square.

Last year, Dubai’s office supply increased 13 per cent, as a number of projects that were stalled during the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 were finally completed.

“Modern Dubai is a late 20th- century zoned automobile city,” said Yolande Barnes, the director of world research at Savills.

“In an industry where chance meetings and collaborations can add so much value, many of the more creative tech occupiers are moving away from the single-use environment and towards high-quality urban environments. This is at odds with the single-use, out-of-town approach of the free trade zones of Dubai.”

David Godchaux, the chief executive of Savills’ Dubai operation, aid some developers were moving away from “mega- structures in which cars are essential, to more pedestrianised, urban communities which align with a high-end European lifestyle”.

To that end, the Tecom Group in Dubai has been trying to create areas in the Dubai Design District (D3) to attract creative start-ups.

The 21 million square feet D3 campus houses office space, small boutiques, galleries, workshops and artists’ studios.

Tecom’s Internet City and Media City follow similar principles.

On Tuesday, the property broker JLL reported that 283,000 sq metres of office space came on stream in the market during the three months to the end of last month, bringing Dubai’s total supply to 8.2 million sq metres.

“Office demand has been focused on the higher quality offices of the central business districts,” said Craig Plumb, the head of research at JLL’s Dubai office.

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