PropTech has been gathering pace over the past few years, but – like in many other sectors – COVID-19 has provided a catalyst for transformative change. The need for digital technology to continue business operations in the real estate industry has caused the sector to lean heavily on PropTech innovation.
“The entire MENA region has been on an upswing for a while now in terms of PropTech. But COVID-19 has certainly acted as an accelerator,” says Sajid Azmi, CEO of technology insights firm, Yegertek. “Because of the pandemic, several large Saudi Arabian real estate brokerages have increased their investment in digital analytics, cloud-based solutions and AI-led services, more than ever before” he continues.
SAUDI ARABIA AND VISION 2030
Since Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 was first launched in 2016, the Kingdom has been powering ahead with digital innovation – which in turn has been a key part of the new city real estate infrastructure being developed in the country.
Indeed, as Sanjeevv Bhatia, CEO of SB Group & Netix Global BV explains “The Middle East is one of the most proactive regions in the world in terms of developing smart cities which are led by PropTech innovation. Nowhere is this more apparent than with developments in Saudi Arabia like Neom and the Red Sea Project.” Both developments are planned megacities in the Kingdom which are due to open in the next few years. Each will incorporate smart technology like never before, as Bhatia continues: “At the heart of these cities will be state-of-the-art solutions featuring IoT, AI, and Machine Learning. Cloud connectivity will mean that new services and systems will be seamlessly added and updated, as new innovations emerge. The result will be disruption-free, sustainable and energy efficient cities, that deliver exceptional user experiences for residents.”
THE NEW EGYPTIAN BOOM
2016 also saw the launch of Egypt’s own Vision 2030 strategy, with similar long-term goals to innovate and revolutionise the country’s digital infrastructure, boost the economy and create innovative new city spaces and transport links. Many of these projects are now underway, or nearing completion: “The New Administrative Capital in Egypt is a great example of PropTech innovation to create smarter spaces. Like the developments in Saudi Arabia, there is a renewed focus on building operational resilience through strong data and technology foundations. Digital occupant experiences and customer satisfaction is becoming a core competency for real estate owners and operators to deliver differentiated services in today's world,” explains Prabhu Ramachandran, CEO of AI property operations platform, Facilio.
A POST COVID-19 WORLD
Indeed, according to Ramachandran, PropTech is bringing a welcome disruption to the GCC region: “In a post-COVID-19 world, there will be an even greater appetite for smart technologies, and smart living and working spaces. We are witnessing renewed interest towards an agile, connected model of building operations harnessing IoT and Cloud to remotely operate the building systems efficiently, exceed sustainability goals, and elevate the occupant experience. This paradigm shift could indeed reposition the regional markets in the changing global real estate dynamic."
WANT MORE REAL ESTATE INSIGHT?
Subscribe to the Cityscape newsletter here