English Articles

The largest UAE developer opening up the market to proptech startups.

The largest UAE developer Aldar Properties is opening up the Persian Gulf market to proptech startups

Together with the startAD accelerator and NYU Abu Dhabi, developer Aldar held an international acceleration program that allowed startups from different countries to try their hand in the UAE market. We spoke with the organizers about why leading developers support technological products and what prospects proptech has.

  • Why do you consider digital transformation of the real estate market important? Can it simultaneously affect business performance and customer satisfaction?

Approximately 50% of the world's population now lives in cities, and by 2050, this figure will rise to 67%. The scale of these processes can become a driver of significant changes in everyday human life. With the pandemic, the need for sustainable development and smart city technologies has become even more evident. By 2025, the volume of waste produced by cities may increase to 2.2 billion tons per year: this is a 70% jump in just seven years. Similar challenges will spread to all areas of urban life: air pollution, noise levels, energy, physical and mental health issues, education, and safety.

The total volume of construction projects in the UAE is about $818.2 billion, which is roughly half of the entire construction market in the Persian Gulf. For example, in Dubai, only the construction work for the Expo 2020 amounted to $42.5 billion. The region has a vision, resources, and ambitions to have the most advanced and life-significant technologies in the world and to create a strong proptech industry.

Understanding the benefits of proptech and giving startups the opportunity to enter the UAE market are our values, which brought together developer Aldar Properties, international accelerator startAD (company Tamkeen), and NYU Abu Dhabi University to create the Scale Up proptech industry accelerator.

  • At what stages of the developer product life cycle is it particularly important to implement technologies right now?

The Aldar Scale Up program includes a 3-day strategic session with leaders of the relevant Aldar business units. Deep immersion in processes allows identifying requests that exist now and in which areas proptech innovations can have the most significant effect. We have identified three key areas for ourselves: sustainable development, data work, and smart construction.
Nine startups from these fields participated in the acceleration program and three of them were given the opportunity to launch a pilot with Aldar. They are: Envio (Germany), an IoT ecosystem for building control that allows for the integration and analysis of data from various sources automatically or manually; GBuilder (Finland), a BIM platform for collaborative work; Metrikus (UK), an ecosystem of solutions for monitoring building occupancy, energy efficiency, air quality, ESG development.

  • What metrics are important for a developer to track when implementing new technological products? The criteria and indicators of implementation success depend on the application area in the company and end-users of the technology. There is no single solution. For example, for air quality sensors, successful implementation criteria may not only be the accuracy of operation and data obtained but also customer satisfaction, energy savings, and cost reduction. At the same time, the most important thing is close collaboration between the developer and the technology provider to determine KPIs at the project start and clear milestones for measuring project performance. "Supporting a culture of innovation at all levels of the business allows us to create intellectual and practical progress in Aldar for a better customer experience and way of life. The Middle East region is gaining unique experience in developing a startup culture and supporting local talent. Startups received billions of dollars in investments in 2020," commented Maan al-Awlaqi, Director of Aldar Properties. "Overall investments grew from 13% to 52% in 2019 according to Magnitt's 2021 Venture Investment Report. This demonstrates the importance of the program we launched. The proptech sector is finally becoming global and changing the market situation. The current agenda indicates that companies need to remain flexible, pick up key trends, and invest time and resources in proptech products," he added.