Dr. Khaled Alawadi, curator of National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia 2018. Courtesy National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia
Dr. Khaled Alawadi, curator of National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia 2018. Courtesy National Pavilion UAE - la Biennale di Venezia

Masdar professor to curate the UAE National Pavilion at 2018 Venice architecture Biennale



The National Pavilion, United Arab Emirates has appointed Dr Khaled Alawadi to curate the UAE’s exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition at next year's Venice Biennale.

An assistant professor of sustainable urbanism at the Masdar Institute, Dr Alawadi's research has focused on sustainable urban design.

His recent papers have included What happened to Abu Dhabi’s urbanism? The question of regional integration, an investigation of the history of national housing in the emirate and an analysis of the lessons this might offer for neighbourhood development in the future.

Dr Alawadi also contributed research toward Transformations: the Emirati National House, the UAE's national pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition, which was curated by the then UAE-based architect and urbanist Yasser Elsheshtawy in 2016.

Transformations: the Emirati National House followed the UAE's first participation at the Venice architecture biennale, the Michele Bambling-curated Lest We Forget: Structures of Memory in the United Arab Emirates, which adopted an archival approach to the history of the UAE's modern architecture of the 1970s-1980s.

A trained architect, planner and urban designer, Dr Alawadi holds a PhD in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin.

“Throughout my research, my aim is to develop the UAE’s reputation as a knowledge hub and engine for the transformation of cities and sustainable urbanization. The UAE has a unique architectural heritage which sits in dialogue with rapid urbanisation and development, and offers a rich environment for thinking about the future of architecture and urban planning,” he said in a statement.

“The Venice Biennale’s architecture exhibition is one of the world’s foremost platforms in the field, and I am honoured to have been selected as the curator for 2018.”

Curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, founders of Dublin-based Grafton Architects, the theme of next year's International Architecture Exhibition is "Freespace" and will take place from May 26 until November 25, 2018.

Speaking in June at the Biennale's headquarters at Ca’ Giustinian in Venice, Farrell and McNamara promised that the 2018 Biennale will celebrate "generosity and thoughtfulness," and "a desire to engage."

"We believe that everyone has the right to benefit from architecture. The role of architecture is to give shelter to our bodies, but also to lift our spirits. A beautiful wall forming a street edge gives pleasure to the passer-by, even if they never go inside," they said.

"We are interested in going beyond the visual. We are interested in the choreography of daily life. We see the earth as client [and] architecture as the manipulation of the resources of the earth."

In their closing statement, the architects quoted an Ancient Greek proverb: a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.

Applications for the 2018 Venice Internship, which offers Emiratis and long-term residents the opportunity to spend one month in Venice staffing the UAE’s exhibition, are now open.

Visit www.nationalpavilionuae.org for more information.

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Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

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July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

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1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

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Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

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