Next generation critical infrastructure
will drive the diversification, growth
and development of GCC countries

08 May 2024


Registration and Networking

Delegate registration and networking

Registration and snacks/networking at the main ball room of the Two Seasons Hotel, Dubai.




MC event introduction and welcome

Welcome to the 2024 Critical Infrastructure Summit, event mechanics and what’s lined up for the day.



Welcome Address
Jason Saundalkar / Head of Content / Big Project Middle East

Welcome Address

Big Project Middle East’s Head of Content Jason Saundalkar welcomes speakers and delegates to the summit and discusses the event’s key themes and focuses. He will also outline the Big Project brands’ plans for the rest of the year.



Panel Discussion
Panel Discussion

Data Centres – The Backbone of a Digital World

The demand for data centres is growing tremendously on the back of changing work habits, the rapid adoption of technology by businesses across verticals, and – in some cases – data privacy concerns. Data centres are complex undertakings that require stakeholders to plan and account for a variety of variables. This session will focus on:
  • What requirements do modern data centres have to be designed to address?
  • What are some of the unique requirements data centres in the Middle East have compared to their foreign counterparts?
  • Data centres are known as significant consumers of resources (power, water etc) – how can these issues be tackled from a sustainability standpoint?
  • What are some of the biggest compliance challenges that data centre developers/operators have to be aware of?
  • Data centres face physical security risks – what are they and how can they be avoided?
  • What are the digital security risks that data centres have to be protected against?


  • Engi Jaber, CEO/Managing Director, Climatize


  • Hassan Younes, Co – CEO & Founder, grfn
  • Lewis Wright, Project Director, PMKConsult
  • Qusay Abu-Abed, Regional Sales Manager, MENA & Data Center in-Charge at Danfoss Turkey Middle East and Africa
  • Suhail Arfath, CEO, Hloov
  • Tinboat Arslanouk, Senior Director Partner Strategy and Growth, Khazna Data Centers



Chandra Dake / Group CEO / Dake Group Limited

Sponge Cities: Engineering Urban Resilience for Extreme Weather

As recent torrential rains have dramatically showcased, the need for resilient infrastructure in urban environments has never been more urgent. This presentation will address the innovative concept of Sponge Cities – a visionary approach to urban design geared towards absorbing and managing excess rainfall.

The session will explore how integrating natural water management solutions within urban infrastructure can prevent the kind of widespread disruption Dubai recently experienced. By harnessing the principles of Sponge Cities, we can create urban landscapes that not only withstand the new climate reality but also thrive within it.

This discussion will delve into successful global case studies, outline the steps needed for implementation, and consider the potential for scalability in the Middle East and beyond.



Panel Discussion
Panel Discussion

Resilient connections: Airports & Seaports in Focus

Airports and seaports connect cities to the world and facilitate the smooth movement of people and commodities across supply chains. Given the ever-changing demands of cities and the growing focus on decarbonisation, existing assets must evolve or be developed from scratch when they are gaps that need to be filled. This panel discussion will focus on:
  • What do airports and seaports of the future look like? What do these next generation infrastructure projects have to offer in terms of passenger and cargo service to support GCC economic development mandates?
  • How does infrastructure have to change to enable the use of smart/autonomous transportation?
  • Where does existing infrastructure fall short in terms of addressing government requirements?
  • How can airports and seaports be made more sustainable/efficient from the standpoints of delivery and operations? What role can sustainable materials and technology such as Digital Twins play in the pursuit of achieving Net Zero?
  • Retrofitting existing infrastructure whilst maintaining ongoing operations – can new delivery methodologies be a gamechanger to safe and efficient delivery?
  • What steps do owners/operators of these assets have to take to secure their complex digital systems from cyberattacks?
  • How can existing infrastructure be managed more sustainably in support of Net Zero goals and mandates?


  • Katarina Uherova Hasbani, Partner and Global Director of Strategy and Advisory, AESG


  • Dr. Rana El-Dabaa, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Heriot-Watt University Dubai
  • Dr. Talia Sherrard, Regional Director Strategic Sales & Marketing, MEI, Fugro
  • Fabien Jean Pierre Loy, Associate Engineer, Buro Happold
  • Laith Haboubi, Vice President – Middle East Region, Vector Corrosion Middle East Services
  • Rhona Hunter, Managing Director, Hunter Horizon Consulting



Daniel O’Neill / Regional Manager – Middle East / Skyports Infrastructure

Launching Commercial AAM Network in Dubai

This session will examine the progress of Dubai’s commercial AAM network, with insight shared by the tripartite project’s infrastructure stakeholder. The session will look at the milestones achieved thus far from an operational, regulatory and development perspective, and consider what the next 18 months of effort will look like ahead of the 2026 launch goal.



Panel Discussion
Panel Discussion

Developing state of the art urban mobility in the GCC

Urban mobility is a crucial component of smart and sustainable cities, and can directly impact existing residents’ quality of life and the attractiveness of cities to new residents. By incorporating new mobility solutions and technology, cities and transportation operators can dramatically boost mobility and achieve their sustainable ambitions. This panel discussion will focus on:
  • What are the current urban mobility challenges in GCC cities? What does data/technology reveal? What are some of the market trends and passenger expectations today?
  • What are the mobility solutions that GCC cities should be gearing up for? Greater EV and hydrogen vehicle infrastructure; driverless vehicles; PODs; sky trains etc – what base infrastructure is needed, and what are the challenges of developing this infrastructure in cities?
  • Passenger and cargo drones are being pushed as potential options to enhance the movement of people and goods in cities. What needs to be accomplished for this to become a reality, and what are the challenges?
  • What policies need to be put in place to facilitate the safe usage of driverless vehicles (smart/autonomous) and passenger/cargo drones in cities?
  • What role can technology such as Digital Twins play in terms of planning, monitoring and operating infrastructure (existing and new)? What precautions should be taken to ensure Digital Twin models and data are protected and secured against global threat actors?
  • What impact will intercity and GCC wide rail systems have on existing transportation systems? What are the potential opportunities and risks?
  • Key considerations and lessons learnt from innovations in transportation systems?


  • Samya Ghosh, Practice Director, Strategic Planning & Advisory, AECOM


  • Mohammad Shamlouli, Geographic Information Systems Manager, Insite
  • Nadeem Shakir, Regional Director – Transport & Mobility Planning, Zutari Engineering International PTY Limited – Dubai Branch
  • Shane Mitchell, Director, Advisory EMEA, Parsons
  • Steven Velegrinis, Design Director and Regional Head of Cities Practice, Gensler
  • Stuart Watts, Senior Transportation Engineer, KEO International Consultants




MC Closing Remarks

Thank you for attending the Critical Infrastructure Summit.





Buffet lunch and networking.