Sultan Butti Bin Mejren (centre), director-general of the Dubai Land Department, is joined by Mark Hamill (left), managing director of Awards International UAE, and Mahmoud Al Burai, director of the Dubai Real Estate Institute (Drei) during the launch of the Gulf Real Estate Awardsin November. The winners of the awards will be announced on Monday Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) will be announcing the winners of the first Gulf Real Estate Awards on Monday. The awards, a first in the region to be backed by government, aims to encourage industry best practices and growth. It will see a total of 66 organisations across the Gulf competing for 21 awards that will recognise the region’s best developers and architects, along with outstanding projects in sectors such as affordable and luxury housing and commercial developments.

Special awards will recognise those making the government’s vision a reality, under categories such as Best Use of Smart Technology and Happiest Community. Finalists will present their case before a panel of judges a day before the final awards and entries will be marked against key criteria, including change delivered, effective implementation, business impact, innovation and creativity.

“[The awards] help us to highlight those who are applying best practices in the industry and encourage people to learn from this example,” said Mahmoud Al Burai, CEO of the Dubai Real Estate Institute. “We’ve expended a lot of energy on identifying the bad guys, but not enough has been done to champion the good guys who are doing a great job.”

Talking about the main challenges the real estate industry is currently facing, Al Burai, said, “There are still issues related to the awareness of investors and tenants. We want them to be more aware of the laws and regulations so that they feel better protected. There is also the need to increase transparency in the real estate sector. If we want to attract more investors, we should play an active role with regards to transparency and governance.”

In creating a truly unique real estate market in Dubai, Al Burai said its is important to incorporate themes such as such as “smart”, “sustainable” and “happiness”, which are already among the categories covered under the awards. Furthermore, Al Burai said Dubai's real estate market already has a number of attractive features, such as security, high returns and liquidity.

“Now we need to work more on the connectivity of the city," said Al Burai. "We’ve witnessed significant population growth and that puts pressure on infrastructure, particularly roads and transportation. As we expect the population to grow further, we will need to link the city better than it is presently and work to seamlessly connect the clusters around Dubai.

"We need to build well-connected communities and move people closer to their workplaces so that we can cut down on traffic – this is why affordable housing is so important. Our communities should be places where people can live, work and seek entertainment all in one place.”