Riad Madani is the Director of Unbox Community, a community and workspace that aims to promote the interaction of startups and established industry leaders to maximise opportunities together. They provide a fully serviced environment in the heart of Dubai’s business district, conveniently located close to Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Mall and the iconic Burj Khalifa.

 We sat down with Riad to learn more about his take on the industry and future trends. When it comes to the way he envisions the future of work in Dubai and the UAE at large, he thinks that the first and most important thing for people and organisations is to stay agile and open to growth, technology and the global context. Further on, he emphasises 5 important trends for the future:

“1. Diversification of the Economy: The UAE has been actively working on diversifying its economy away from oil dependency. This diversification has led to growth in sectors such as technology, renewable energy, tourism, and finance. The future of work is likely to involve a broader range of industries and job opportunities as the country continues to diversify.

2. Remote and Hybrid Work: The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote and flexible work arrangements worldwide. This trend is expected to continue in Dubai and the UAE, with many companies offering remote and hybrid work options. It’s important to pay attention to how organisations adapt to these new work models and how they impact the job market.

3.  Technology and Automation: The UAE has been investing heavily in technology and innovation. As automation and artificial intelligence advance, some jobs may be replaced, but new opportunities will also emerge in areas related to technology, data science, and digital transformation.

4. Entrepreneurship and Startups: Dubai has been fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. The future of work may include more opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups, with government support and incentives playing a significant role.

5.  Global Talent Attraction: The UAE is actively attracting global talent through initiatives like the Golden Visa program. This trend is likely to continue, making Dubai and the UAE more diverse in terms of talent and expertise.”

As a leader in the flex workspaces, we wanted to know what he says as the most important preferences of today’s tenants. The 3 last years have definitely changed the rules of the game, with many tech and lifestyle novelties, and – it goes without sayings – the pandemic. 

“ We have seen a massive demand for flexible workspaces or coworking spaces in the last 3 years. To put things in perspective, the global number of coworking spaces is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17 %, and the population of the members is expected to grow at 20% by 2024.”

Working from a coworking area comes with valuable benefits, Riad adds, which include:

  • Value for Money
  • Flexibility
  • Reliable support services
  • Sense of community
  • Business networking opportunities

He thinks that the whole office sector will be more aligned with the requirements of a workforce that’s more interested in flexibility and technology. Some other changes in the industry are, according to Riad, related to: 

“Economy : The increase in prices of prime real estate locations. Business looking to minimise rental, or ownership costs be it in their existing markets or in future markets (avoiding long term rental commitments)

Culture: A change in the culture of office/spaces driven by a millennial demographic mindset where flexibility is sacred, and wellness is prized – businesses are also moving to distributed locations / partnerships / popularised by startups / investors open to this kind of ventures

Technology: Technology advancement enabling remote working, better connectivity, and a reduced need to be present in satellite offices or HQs, CRM, Real-estate software.”

Speaking of technology, there are several new products and services that will have a significant impact on the commercial real estate sector in the coming years. In the near future, these technologies are likely to change the way properties are developed, managed, and utilised. Some of the key technologies include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): These technologies are used for virtual property tours, design visualisation, and interior customization.
  • Smart Building Management Systems and automation ( efficiency and security)

Finally, we asked Riad Madani to describe the future of the office industry in MENA in a short phrase:

“Adaptive workspaces driven by flexibility and technology.” he concluded.