LED adoption ‘at tipping point’ in the Middle East

Attitudes to LEDs and creative lighting design are starting to change in the region, says lighting designer Faraz Izhar

The Middle East is at the tipping point in LED adoption – that’s the view of one of the region’s top lighting designers.

Faraz Izhar, senior lighting designer at KEO International Consultants, cites two main reasons: first, the reduction of energy subsidies, and second his belief that scepticism from a rump of clients is evaporating as LEDs gain ground in the market.

‘There’s a mindset here – expecially in Abu Dhabi – that LEDs are expensive and don’t deliver. But that attitude is slowly changing. Everybody knows, for instance, that LED luminaires can more than cope with the Middle East’s heat conditions.

‘At the concept stage, the developer will say he wants LEDs and so we work up the comparisons and they understand the proposition, but when the cost plan is done they get nervous. For instance, if we are proposing to substitute LEDs for compact fluorescent we show them that although LEDs cost twice as much, in the long run there is a saving. Three years ago the LED would have been five times the price of the LED.’

Attitudes are also changing to the lighting design profession in the region. ‘Most of the time we have to fight to get creative lighting design accepted by clients. That’s not the case in Dubai but it is in Abu Dhabi. They’re old school here, and they like to see over-lit pathways and facades. There’s a culture that brighter is better. We challenge that culture and sell lighting to them instead as something to enhance the architecture. But often they don’t understand and ask ‘why is the light so low here?’. We reply that ‘less is more’, and that this style of lighting is the design standard all over the world. But attitudes are changing, and changing rapidly.’

He’s an admirer of the work that Martin Valentine, lighting expert at the Municipality of the City of Abu Dhabi, has done in creating standards for street and outdoor lighting which are helping to reduce energy.

‘Martin has done a fantastic job since he got here in bringing LEDs into the exterior sector. What he has done with the [exterior lighting] guidelines in unique in the region, I fully expect other nations to follow suit.’  

Izhar Is also an enthusiastic backer of the new LuxLIve Middle East exhibition and conference, with its emphasis on quality lighting products, safety and education. ‘This is just what we want in the region’, says Izhar.

At LuxLive, Izhar is giving a presentation entitled ‘Fascinating facades: How to illuminate building exteriors’. He’ll outlines the key issues with facades, and looks at some challenging recent projects. It takes place in the lightspace arena at 11am on Thursday 14 April.

  • LuxLive Middle East 2016 takes place on Wednesday 13 April and Thursday 14 April at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. View the full programme and register for free here.