The ongoing pandemic has had a profound effect on changing our collective understanding of community – and rightly so. The idea of a community as a physical place has been less prominent in recent decades. However, Covid-19 has served to highlight the importance of social connectedness on well-being; and how the home and its surroundings contribute to overall happiness. Looking at community through this lens, integrated communities, where people can work, shop, dine, socialize and live, truly represent the benchmark of modern life.
In the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, the importance of diversity, inclusiveness and a high standard of living are identified as key drivers for attracting a highly skilled workforce, essential for sustainable development. sustainable economy. The community is an essential element in achieving this goal.
Creating safe and vibrant communities in which people of all nationalities can thrive is key to attracting and retaining top talent to support the growth of a strong knowledge-based economy. As in the advanced society, diversity is the key to a strong community. The community should replace its individual residents; it should be flexible enough to grow and evolve with its diverse resident base. While this may seem like an elusive ideal, it is not. In fact, it’s more than achievable – and the key is in the community design.
While accessibility will always be a major factor when choosing a new home, strong urban design with plenty of green spaces and a unique community vibe where residents can lose themselves in picture-perfect surroundings is equally important. This was the raison d’être of Bloom Gardens – a Mediterranean-inspired community located on the Eastern Mangrove Corniche in Abu Dhabi, which offers a total of more than 600 villas and townhouses and is home to residents of a many nationalities.
According to a 2020 MENA-wide report by Savills, Lockdown Living, the top priorities when choosing residential space for people during the pandemic were: price at 23%, property size at 19%, community facilities at 18% and proximity. work at 15 percent. A growing need for more space and access to community amenities seems to be driving a renewed interest in villas and townhouses rather than high-rise apartments. This shift is supported by CBRE’s Q3 2021 UAE Market Review. The study noted that while apartment rental rates in Abu Dhabi fell by 6.8% in the 12 months to August 2021, villa rents increased by 2.6%. This trend was replicated in Dubai, which experienced its highest ever growth rate for villas with an increase of 15.5%. The study highlights the strength of interest in well-established integrated communities in the UAE, such as Bloom Gardens.
Location is usually a key factor when choosing a new home. Proximity to major transport links and important day-to-day facilities such as schools, clinics and supermarkets are prime considerations. This is perhaps where integrated communities come into their own. As well as providing easy access to existing amenities, many also have a wide range of their own facilities and services. These include highly reputable schools and nurseries, excellent healthcare facilities, prayer rooms, 24-hour security, state-of-the-art gyms and clubs, children’s play areas , swimming pools and sports facilities, as well as a wide range of outlets and restaurants. .
Community facilities also promote social connectedness and provide vibrant hubs in which residents can meet and relax.
The importance of outdoor space has also emerged as a non-negotiable due to the pandemic. A November 2020 Emirates Nature-WWF report that surveyed young people in the United Arab Emirates about their priorities for a post-Covid world, found that 92% want to place more emphasis on the traditional values and practices that connect us to nature.
While integrated communities have several important benefits for people, there are also broader societal and economic benefits. Businesses that operate within an integrated community can expect to experience higher and more consistent footfall, due to their proximity and convenience to residents. CBRE’s Q3 2021 UAE Market Review Reveals Increased Demand for Space, from Supermarkets, Pharmacies and Restaurant Owners Seeking to Meet Increased Demand Levels in High-Quality Emerging Communities . The report also notes a marked increase in the number of local and international brands seeking to enter the market or expand their businesses within integrated communities, providing even greater choice for residents.
Focus on the environment
Sustainability is another major benefit of integrated communities. One of the main priorities of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 is to ensure the development of a well-managed urban environment with sustainability at its heart – and that means improving air quality, increasing the contribution of clean energy and implement green growth plans. Integrated communities are very pedestrian-friendly, which means fewer cars on the road and ultimately a lower carbon footprint. They also allow infrastructure consolidation instead of having to build independent systems. This presents strong opportunities for energy efficiency and sustainable building practices.
At Bloom, our ambition is to develop sustainable and integrated communities that provide a rewarding lifestyle and quality of life. The pandemic has highlighted that we need to approach life holistically; our lives don’t exist in silos – and neither do our homes. We want to attract residents and investors who share our passion for developing communities where people of all ages and nationalities can create lives that are most meaningful to them.
The author is the CEO of Bloom Holding
About Bloom Holding
A subsidiary of National Holding, Bloom Holding is one of the leading holding companies in the United Arab Emirates, committed to building, operating and investing in high-end communities and enriching the lives of customers through development and management of real estate, educational and hotel assets.
Bloom Holding is driven by its vision to exceed buyer and investor expectations through partnerships with the best suppliers to deliver a superior quality of life, while contributing to societal and economic progress. Bloom Properties specializes in the development of residential, commercial and mixed-use projects in key lifestyle destinations such as Saadiyat Island and Al Bateen in Abu Dhabi and Jumeirah Village Circle in Dubai. Some of its key projects are Bloom Gardens, Bloom Marina, Bloom Central, Park View, Soho Square, Bloom Towers and Bloom Heights.
Bloom Properties has delivered over 5,000 units to date and has over 4,000 in the pipeline. The company also has 1,000 units in its rental portfolio. Under its hotel branch, Bloom has two hotels – Marriott Downtown and The Abu Dhabi EDITION, with a total of 630 rooms and 128 executive apartments.
Bloom Education currently has 11 schools, which serve 13,000 students. This includes four private international schools, seven charter schools and one crèche. Its facilities management arm, bfm, has more than 5,000 units under its management.
Carlos Wakim, General Manager
Carlos Wakim is the CEO of Bloom Holding. He manages operations for all Bloom Holding companies, including real estate, education, hospitality and rental, and facilities management services.
Wakim has over 20 years of leadership experience in some of the region’s leading real estate companies, where he led their success and expansion. He uses his extensive industry experience to add value to Bloom Holding through the execution of its strategic mandate to develop integrated real estate solutions and create superior living experiences.
Prior to joining Bloom Holding, Wakim held several management positions in the real estate industry. He joined Bloom Holding from Amaala, a public investment fund initiative in Saudi Arabia, where he served as Chief Development Officer, overseeing its entire portfolio of projects.
Wakim has also a proven track record in some of the region’s leading real estate companies including TDIC, Emaar and Zabeel Properties.