One Dubai developer loves being in the sun

Diamond Developers starts work on a hotel that will be fully solar powered

13:35 March 1, 2017


One Dubai developer is enjoying his place in the sun … quite literally. So much so, he is building a boutique hotel — a 153-room, three storey structure in Dubailand — fully powered by solar energy and which is in line to be the first such in the region.

The hotel forms the second phase of Diamond Developers’ massive Dubai Sustainable City community.

“We have the final architectural design and work will start within weeks,” said Faris Saeed, CEO of Diamond Developers. “Once the property opens, which is set for 2018, all the water from the hotel will be reused for landscaping.

“Much of the fresh produce — around 60-70 per cent — for future guests will be sourced from the adjoining farm and that means there’s no need for transportation. That translates into zero mileage where possible.”

The hotel development will take up 300,000 square feet, of which the farm will take up 100,000 square feet. According to Saeed, 100 per cent of the herbs and 80 per cent of the veggies will be plucked from the farm. (The fruit requirements will need to be sourced from outside.) The property — to be operated by the IHG Group owned Hotel Indigo brand — wears its sustainability credentials seriously. Where possible, materials from the Phase 1 construction of Sustainable City will find new purpose within the hotel. That means a lot of the desks and other furniture could be made out of recycled wood.

The hotel will be an easy fit into the wider Dubai Sustainable City, where the residential part already has come along nicely. Of the 500 town houses and 89 apartments, 260 villas and 75 apartments are occupied. The prices range between Dh1000-Dh1,100 per square foot. Car charging stations have been installed and Teslas can be seen in the parking lot. For mobility needs within, it is using battery-powered vehicles.

The energy requirements are driven by renewables. “Dubai Sustainable City is connected to the national grid … we have to be connected to it,” said Saeed. “We have a surplus from solar power during the day that we export to the grid and import at night. There is no other option.

“It was in January last year that the first families started to move in. “We took almost one year to monitor, verify, document what we had done. So far, everything is working based on our plans.

“We spent almost Dh2 billion for Phase 1 — and no we did not charge a premium for all the sustainability measures put in place within the homes and the community. The myth of sustainability carrying an extra cost is just not true.

“In any project designed from scratch with the sustainability goal will end up costing equal or less than a standard project. We can prove it. Our first homework was done well before the construction. We have created a DNA for sustainable development.

“These lessons are scalable and adaptable. We can help spread the know-how.”


What next after Sustainable City?

Diamond Developers is through with Phase 1 of its massive project spanning 5 million square feet. Phase 2 will, apart from the hotel, feature a country club, school and innovation centre. Beyond Sustainable City, the developer has plans for mid-rise apartments in the Arjan cluster of Dubailand.

“It’s the second trial on sustainable development we are doing,” said Frais Saeed, CEO. “We have acquired three plots for G+7-storey structures featuring about 200 units each. Each project could cost Dh150 million/”