H.E Khalid Al Ali

Secretary General, Sharjah Urban Planning Council

His Excellency Khalid Al Ali, the Secretary General of the Sharjah Urban Planning Council (SUPC), is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in Urban Planning and Engineering.

Since assuming the management of the SUPC as Secretary General in 2014, Mr. Al Ali has overseen the inception and growth of the organization as a key player in the positive development of Sharjah.  The impactful projects undertaken by the SUPC under him include strategic plans, infrastructure projects, public realm improvements and quality of life policies.   He sees improving the quality of life for citizens, residents and visitors as the foundation of the work he and the SUPC engage in.

Before leading the SUPC, Mr. Al Ali began his career at the Directorate of Town Planning and Survey as an Engineer. He quickly worked his way up the ranks to become Head of the Planning Studies office and then the Director of the Planning Studies Department.

The quality and impact of his work has led him to be honored with a verity of awards throughout his career.  These include being named as the Distinguished Director in 2013 while working at the Directorate of Town Planning and Survey. 

In addition to his Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from the American University of Sharjah and a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering from UAE University in Al Ain, Mr. Al Ali has completed a variety of training course workshops including the Urban Planning Workshop with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. He also participated in the Design of Residential Complexes Standards in Dubai with the Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme.  He also has received a training award from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore for Integrated Land Use Planning.

Benjamin Heydon

Landscape Consultant, Abu Dhabi Municipality

Benjamin Heydon is a Technical Landscape Consultant to the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City and has worked in the specialist field of landscape architecture for over 13-years. A graduate from the University of Canberra and currently completing a Masters with Heriot Watt University; his experience has been generated through extensive exposure to unique environments which has seen him work in sectors in Canada, Middle East, Australia and Africa. Past large projects include, Ceremonial Walk; Australian War Memorial, Atlantis Hotel; Palm Jumeriah, Yas Island Street Landscape and Racing Circuit and Sheikh Zayed Street (Salam Street).

His technical work includes developing Landscape Standards, Specifications and Technical guidelines in line with best practices. Through coordination with other government body stakeholders and driven by sustainable design he has been successful in introducing a focal shift for the use of native landscape planting within public realm projects.

Rim Zamrik

Landscape Architect, Abu Dhabi City Municipality

Khalid Alsuwaidi

Acting Director of Leisure Facilities Department, Dubai Municipality

As the Director of Leisure Facilities at Dubai Municipality, Khalid Sultan Al Suwaidi is tasked with the responsibility to ensure the smooth and successful launch and operations of Dubai Safari, home to the UAE’s most diverse collection of wildlife, through strategic insight and direction. Khalid is also in charge of other spectacular recreational facilities such as the fascinating Dubai Frame which will recite the story of Dubai from past to future, demonstrating the present Dubai through an iconic building designed to frame the city and capture its enchantment. Children City is another recreational facility that Khalid’s runs along with his team, where everyone is dedicated to create a fun  learning experience for kids

As one of the chief spokespersons of the Dubai Safari park, Khalid puts a human face to the Middle East’s biggest wildlife project built for conservation, education and entertainment, to effectively deliver the project’s key messages to external stakeholders. 

A Dubai Municipality official of more than 15 years, Khalid has previously held the roles of Principal Planning and Development Specialist, Head of Planning Statistics Unit and Business Analyst at the government organization.

A UAE national, Khalid holds an MBA from the Canadian University of Dubai and a Bachelor’s degree in computing and information system from the Dubai University.

Hrvoje Cindric

Associate & Middle East Urbanism Leader, ARUP

Hrvoje is an experienced, confident, committed and passionate Urban Planner and Designer. He has a proven track record as a designer, planner and project manager and has lived in the UAE for past five years.

Hrvoje has extensive experience in projects across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia and South America, working for public and private sector clients alike. He has worked on a wide range of projects from strategic frameworks to large greenfield master plans down to brownfield regeneration, urban design and place-making projects.

Hrvoje is fluent in Croatian, English and German.

Peter Scott

Director - Landscape Architecture, Khatib and Alami

Peter Scott has been significant influence role in the international urban and landscape master planning and design industry, since 1989 when he left Australia to form his own company with a mission to undertake projects in every country in the world. (So far 25)

He has a unique approach to integrating holistic sustainability into urbanism from the detailed urban design of places and spaces to the metropolitan and regional spatial planning scale.

His projects have won over 40 international awards and, whilst working for The Government of Indonesia, he received the Citra Gold Medal for best foreign consultant in Indonesia.

With over 30 years of Australian and International project experience, Peter also brings significant skills in planning, urban design, landscape architect, master planning, sustainability, golf course design, concept architecture as well as marketing, with extensive experience in promoting developments and gaining public acceptance of proposals.

Peter has developed a unique approach to salt water agronomy, which shows promise for food cultivation and landscape development.

Peter is presently also employed as Director of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture with Khatib & Aalami – one of the largest Multi-disciplinary practices in the world.

Edward Stillinger

Senior Manager - Landscape Architecture, Khatib & Alami

Edward is the Senior Landscape Manager for Khatib & Alami in the Sharjah office.  In his career Edward has worked as a Landscape Architect, urban design consultant and a developer client in Canada, USA, Asia and the Middle East.

His work has been comprised of sustainable urban project design and management in over 20 countries. His approach has been collaborative and multi-disciplinary, specializing in broad based problem solving that synthesizes expert information into comprehensive solutions addresing social, environmental and economic aspects of new community creation.

With a background that includes ecological restoration Edward brings a holistic approach to the integration of landscape architecture, planning, and environmental principles.

Val Zillig

Urban Planning Advisor, Sharjah Urban Planning Council

Mr. Val Zillig, AICP has over 20 years of experience in Urban Planning, Real Estate, International Projects, Governance and Development on three continents (North America, Europe and Asia). 

Currently, he is the Planning Advisor to the Sharjah Urban Planning Council, a position he assumed in May of 2016. He is currently working on a variety of public realm improvement projects, development of urban development policies and land use plans.

Previously, he was Planning Manager/Advisor with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) in the United Arab Emirates for over seven years.  In this position, he was responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of zoning codes, real estate policy, regulatory laws, redevelopment plans, development manuals and frameworks regarding Urban Planning in the Emirate. Additionally, he was in charge of the creating affordable housing plans, building regulations and other civic improvement projects.

Leo Gonzales

Senior Landscape Architect, Damac Properties

Rayya Jawhar

Senior Sustainability Consultant, Burohappold

Rayya joined the Sustainability Team of Buro Happold Dubai in 2013. Prior to this she has worked on sustainable building research and design with various environmental organizations including the United Nations Environmental Department. Rayya's main area of expertise is resource management and providing strategic integrated resources guidance within the built environment:

informing building and masterplan design for resources reduction and developing walkable places that reduce the dependency on car and vehicle fuel. She has worked on a variety of Middle East and international projects. Rayya provided sustainable design guidance to project scaling from villas , buildings , communities development to master planning. Rayya is also a LEED AP and has led the delivery of LEED projects in Qatar and Dubai.

Mohamed A. Alamasi

Head of Service and Master Planning Section, Ras Al Khaimah Municipality

Mohamed Alamasi is currently the Head of Studies and Master Planning Section at RAK Municipality

Mohamed is a Passionate Urban Planner and designer.

A dedicated and hardworking individual, with long service and experience with distinct Governmental authorities and respected private agencies, which are testimonies to his expertise, commitment and ability.

His diverse educational background includes urban planning, transportation, and business administration along with 24 years of experience in City planning, Urban Design and Construction, Master Planning for residential, industrial and mix use schemes made me a specialist in the field.

Andre Badawy

Regional Director – Landscape Architecture, Arcadis

Andre is a registered AILA Landscape Architect with 20 years of experience in construction & landscape architecture in the Middle East and Australia. He is a design manager of the urban built environment, covering large mixed use developments, institutions, public realm, streetscapes, infrastructure, parks and recreational and leisure projects, including stadiums and tourism.

Projects delivered by Andre such as Al Maryah Island, Haza Bin Zayed Stadium, Akoya and Qatar Science Technology Park are proof of his ability to create, manage and deliver the design of some iconic spaces from complex briefs.

Andre has been involved in managing various local and global in house team members and numerous consultancy teams delivering intelligent, creative, robust designs for various real-estate projects. Andre has been a fundamental part of designing, coordinating and delivering these iconic public and private built spaces.

Farah Mekkawi

Senior Landscape Architect, AECOM

Farah has 7 years industry experience gained over the Middle East region and formally educated in Landscape Architecture and Eco-Management.

Working throughout the Middle East with exposure to major roles that includes; senior landscape architect, design team manager, project manager, construction supervision and contracts manager.

Experience with in the listed roles has provided exposure to a diverse range of projects instilling a thorough competence in areas of the design & construction industry.

Worked with both the Consultant and Contracting sector in the full delivery of landscape projects.

Strengths in communication, leadership& stakeholder management has provided elevation into management roles; effectively leading teams and industry professionals across multiple projects simultaneously.

Alaa Al Madani

Architect, Mazen Alumran Consultant Engineers

Alaa Al Madani is an Architect with a MSc focused in Engineering Project Management (EPM) from University of Leeds. Strong skilled in AutoCAD, 3D max, photoshop, sketch up, primavera Oracle P6 and Revit. Has strong knowledge and understanding for architectural and Electrical drawings.  Along with interior designs details drawings such as; finishing, ceiling, furniture plans, sections and elevations. Worked as a junior Architect in Ismail Khonji Associates/IKA, as an Architect in Arsinals Engineering Design. Currently working as an architect in Mazen Alumran consultant engineers.

Fatma Al Madani

Co-Founder Fairytales, Fairy Tales Kids Amusement Arcade

Fatma is the Co Founder of Fairytales, an indoor playground that fosters imaginative, electronic free play. With a strong belief that children are a persons’ biggest and most deserving investment, Fatma took a leap of faith and left a secured government job she loved to spend more time with her two baby daughters. Since her childhood, Fatma had a passion for volunteering and working on projects that help the community, in particular with children. Opening a play area has been a wonderful shared experience with her children and a great platform to encourage children to be active, creative and involved in the community. 

Elie Ghoussoub

Principal Consultant - Health, Safety & Risk Management Middle East, WSP

Elie Ghoussoub is a Principal Consultant for health, safety and accessibility for the built environment at WSP in the Middle East.

Elie has 10 years of experience working on health, safety and accessibility projects in the region and has supported local and international corporation in Oil & Gaz, Construction, Retail and Entertainment with H&S advice and expert opinions. Elie has presented at a number of government forums, appeared in regional trade publications and continues to provide universal accessibility and safety advice to private and public clients among which are The Executive Council of Dubai, Qatar Ministry of Transport, Emaar, Dubai Aviation Engineering, Emirates NBD, Dubai Public Prosecution, FAHR and the Community Development Authority.

Abeer Manneh

LEED AP, WELL AP, PQP Project Designer , 5+design

Abeer is an urban designer and architect with experience across multiple sectors, focusing on large scale master plans, low-carbon developments, lifestyle and residential projects. As a senior designer at 5+ she is responsible for design management, client and consultant communication, sustainable design and technical design compliance with international and local codes and regulations.

Prior to joining 5+design, she was an associate and a project lead with Woods Bagot, and their Green Team leader and representative Board Director on the Emirates Green Building Council. She contributed to significant projects including a LEED Gold R&D master plan, a large-scale development in Masdar City, a low-carbon sustainable island vision master plan, a net-zero energy strategic master plan and a pilot Estidama 4 pearls net-zero energy villa prototype. Her previous job experience also includes TAV Construction, and KEO International.

Abeer received a bachelor of architecture with distinction from Jordan University of Science and Technology, and a master’s in sustainable design of built environment with honors from the British University in Dubai – Cardiff University. She has contributed to several international research publications on the topics of passive design, microclimate, outdoor thermal comfort, energy efficiency in buildings and building retrofitting.

Nadine Bitar

Managing director, Placemaking

Nadine Bitar is currently the CEO of focusing on innovation in design for sustainability, and Place sourcing – a social enterprise to design for livability in the MENA region. Nadine worked in the public sector as an advisor in Abu Dhabi Municipality and the private sector as director in multinational and semi-government organizations. She lead and participated in the design development of more than 30 large scale flagship projects including Leisure and entertainment clusters, Commercial complex, mixed use developments, Golf and residential Communities, Hospitality projects and branded destinations in the Middle East and North Africa .Nadine has been a jury member in Index awards, a keynote speaker of major regional and global design forums and summits and a researcher on sustainable design and Innovation in Arab Cities. She is active in Dubai community as the chairwoman of the advisory board –Interior design at the American University in Dubai , an executive council member of Ellevate international and is an international associate in the American Institute of Architects. She has completed an innovation and management program at Insead business school and obtained her masters in Architecture /Urban Design from the American University of Beirut.

Ali El-Keblawy

Professor of Plant Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology, College of Science

Ali El-Keblawy is a Professor of Plant Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology, College of Science. He established Sharjah Seed Bank and Herbarium that aim to collect the genetic resources and conserve the biodiversity and endangered flora of the UAE. Prof El-Keblawy is a leading scientist in the field of desert ecology. During his work in the UAE deserts in the last 20 years, he published more than 150 papers about the ecology of native plants in international journals and proceeding of conferences. Specifically, Dr El-Keblawy is interested in studying propagation of native plants. He propagated and grew more than 100 native desert plants have the potential for landscaping the cities of the Arab Gulf regions. Dr El-Keblawy provided several consultancies in the propagation of native plants; especially those have the potential to be used for landscaping.

Kamelia Zaal

Founder and Lead Designer at Kamelia, Landscape Design Studio

Kamelia Zaal, having previously served as the Creative Director at Al Barari for eight years, has now branched out again on her own, forming a new Landscape Design studio, Kamelia. After studying landscape garden design at London's renowned Inchbald School of Design, Kamelia returned to Dubai inspired to create intuitive and stylised outdoor living spaces. Shortly thereafter she began her career as a freelance garden designer working on residential villas until she established her own landscape architectural practice, Second Nature, in 2006, working on both large commercial projects and unique residential jobs. Kamelia later formed an association with her family's prestigious property development company, Al Barari, where Second Nature, which became part of Green Works, created the lush botanic surrounds and themed gardens that the address has become recognised for, winning the 2014 International Property Award for Best Residential Landscape Architecture, Best Residential Landscape Architecture Arabia and Best Residential Landscape Architecture Dubai.

Prior to studying landscape design, Zaal worked at the Dubai Economic Department managing the press for Dubai Summer Surprises and the Dubai Shopping Festival. She then took a senior position at Dubai Internet City, after which she was offered the opportunity to work with Dubai Development and Investment Authority. Soon she discovered she wanted to head in a more creative direction and decided to get into garden design.

In 2013, she was featured on the front cover of The UK Garden Design Journal for her work with Al Barari and several other projects. Her work has been included in the Garden Design Up Close book by Emma Reuss featuring the Al Barari Contemporary Garden. She is regularly cited as an expert in the garden landscape industry, having been featured in Inside Out, Garden and Landscape Designers Association Compass magazine, and Landscape Middle East and Prolandscaper Gulf. In May 2015 Kamelia became the first ever Arab landscape designer to participate at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show winning a silver gilt medal for her garden “The Beauty of Islam”. In 2016 Kamelia won another prestigious Silver Gilt medal at the Gardening World Cup in japan for her garden, The Seal of the Prophets.

Her goal is to continue HH Sheikh Zayed’s vision to protect and enhance the environment of the UAE and to leave a green legacy for the people of the UAE to enjoy for decades to come.

Phil Dunn

Design and Planning Manager, The Sustainable City

Phil is a graduate of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He has been working in the UAE since 2005 and currently is Design and Planning manager at SEE Nexus for Diamond Developer’s Sustainable City Project.

He is an advocate for environmental awareness and has a keen interest in Permaculture and Biodynamic farming. Phil is a LEED accredited Professional and

believes a landscape “should not only be beautiful but also be productive.”

Walter Bone

Senior Landscape Manager, DEC Dynamic Engineering Consultants

Walter has 28 years of experience in both the Public and Private sectors and has extensive experience in Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Macau, China, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

Walter’s current role, Senior Landscape Manager at Dynamic Engineering Consultants (DEC) in Dubai.  Walter is the Team Leader for the Landscape and External Works for the Dubai Resorts and Parks Phase 1 Theme Park consisting of Motiongate, Bollywood and Legoland.  Walter will also be leading design and construction efforts for the new Six Flags theme Park in Dubai.

Walter's experience and interest in to historic landscapes is evident in the design of the Qatar North public realm streetscape in the village of Al Jumayliah and south Doha urban design and landscape architecture.

Michael Ellis

Design Principal, 5+design

Michael Ellis is co-founder and managing principal of 5+ design. His primary areas of responsibility are client relations and marketplace strategy. Michael often is the studio’s first contact with a client, meeting to discuss preliminary interest in a project. Thereafter, he serves as the studio’s general liaison in his ongoing role in project management. He also plans and implements overall business strategy, cultivating new relationships with developers, retailers and design firms across the United States and around the world.
Born in Boston and raised in New Mexico and San Francisco, Michael received a bachelor’s degree in music from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a designer at Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall and a senior vice president at The Jerde Partnership before co-founding 5+design. He is an architect licensed in California.

Hayah Taimur

Senior Project Architect, RSP Architects Planners & Engineers (MENA)

As a Senior Project Architect, Hayah is an integral part of the building process from beginning to end. She creates designs to meet client specifications, produces and proposes budget and time estimations, and acts as an intermediary between the client and the design teams.

Hayah joined RSP in 2009, progressing from a Concept Architect to a Senior Architect and following the successful design delivery of two landmark projects, she was promoted to Senior Project Architect.

Her first taste in project management and co-ordination was on the 45,000sqm Secondary Technical School for 2400 students, where she led the project and consultants from concept to tender documentation.

Since then, Hayah has been involved in multiple projects of varying scales. Her most recent projects include the upcoming Nakheel Mall and Palm Tower. Nominated for multiple awards, the 420,000sqm retail hub, connected to a 52-storey super luxury tower is the crown jewel of Palm Jumeirah.

Hayah is constantly involved in design decisions taken on site with the construction team. With the ability to design and manage, Hayah is currently leading 3 projects in the office at varying stages.

Jens Rethorn

Co-founder, Ithara Group

Born near Frankfurt – Germany, Jens Rethorn is a business professional with more than 10 years in the MENA region and 15 years in Education, Sports and Playgrounds. As Co-Founder of the Ithara Group, he has been involved in hundreds of playground projects and a similar number of STEM projects in the GCC. He is the main force behind Ithara Group’s Play4All campaign, trying to make an active Lifestyle available for all.

Fillipo Sona

Director of Hotels, Colliers International

Filippo is an investment and development professional with 22 years of hotel operational and advisory experience gained from the UK, Europe, USA and MENA regions. With specialist expertise in hotel investments, strategic asset management and development consultancy and an in depth knowledge of hotel companies brand growth and development strategies in emerging markets, Filippo has proven to be an invaluable asset to the firm and his clients. His genuine passion and understanding of management agreements has seen him contribute as a technical expert witness in international arbitration.

In 2010 Filippo joined Colliers International Hotels MENA, now considered to be the leading hotel consultancy firm for the hospitality industry. His team of dedicated professional offer advisory services to the full spectrum of the sector including hotels, resorts, serviced apartment, spa, marina and golf.

Filippo is a regular speaker at key international events such as Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC), African Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) and Cityscape Global Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha, Cairo, Big 5 Dubai and Jeddah. Filippo serves on the Advisory Board of both AHIC and AHIF and he is part of the EMEA Investment Committee of

Filippo holds an MBA from Oxford Brooks University and an Honors Degree in Hospitality Management from University of West London.

Steven Velegrinis

Director of Urban Design, Perkins+Will

Steven Velegrinis is an Associate Principal and Director of Urban Design at Perkins+Will with responsibility for Urban Planning, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture projects.  He has over 20 years’ experience in the Middle East, Asia and Australasia in multiple project typologies.

Prior to joining Perkins+Will, Steven worked as a Landscape Architect and Urban Planner in public and private sector roles in Australia, Singapore and Dubai.  Notable is his commitment to combining academia and praxis and to this end he has been an Adjunct Professor of Urban Design at AUS and a Professor of Landscape Architecture at Singapore Polytechnic.

Steven received a BA in Urban Planning, a Postgraduate Diploma in Heritage Conservation and a Bachelor Landscape Architecture (Hons).  Steven has also pursued Doctoral research with a focus on landscape urbanism for the fast developing regions of the world, and his current projects include a 920 square kilometer in Turkey, Resorts in the Seychelles and Caribbean, Citywide Tourism Master plans in Iran and the UAE and a range of Hotel and Residential landscape projects in the region.  Steven’s team was recently honored with the AIA award for the Bogart Creek Master plan in Turkey, The Future Cities award for Consultant of the Year and was named for the 2nd year in a row as one of the top 40 Architects in the region by Middle East Architect.

Predrag Mladenovic

Head of Concept Design, Azizi Developments

Pred is a Creative and Dedicated Architect, concept and schematic designer, Shape Designer, City Planner and Interior Designer with design experience in residential, retail, office and mixed-use buildings (from low-rise to high-rise buildings). Pred is experienced in all parts of architectural and interior design from the beginning through design studies to the successfully completion of the project, mostly involved in concept and schematic design.

Pred’s speciality covers building design (high-rise implementation in 3D city planning), city planning and urban planning, architectural visualization, CAAD, project management.

He currently heads the concept design team at Azizi Developments.

Anne Hutton

Vice President & Senior Urban Planner and Project Manager, HOK

Anne Hutton is a senior urban planner and project manager having gained comprehensive experience throughout Canada and internationally. Anne’s expertise includes project management on large scale master planning projects that focus on a range of strategies such as transit oriented developments, mixed use communities and major events such as the Dubai Expo 2020. Anne is based in Dubai and has worked extensively throughout the Middle East and Africa leading master planning projects.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Claus Schuster

Rector, University of Applied Sciences South Westphalia – Germany

Kerris Harvey

Sales and Marketing Manager, HPS Middle East

With over 16 years experience in the recreation industry, and her background in aquatics and recreational programming within the Canadian Government, she brings her creativity and love of play to the Middle East. Kerris believes in the importance of creating lasting memories and meaningful experiences, a passion that is reflected in the development and delivery of each project under her care. This level of commitment is evident by the 80% repeat client base, shared by Kerris and the HPS Middle East team.