UWI’s ‘Happiness & Wellbeing’ Expert Shares Insights at the Urban Thinkers Campus 2017 in Dubai

UWI’s Aubrilyn Reeder contributes to expert ‘Happiness & Wellness’ panel discussion
Oct 21, 2017 Mark

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - United Arab Emirates, Dubai - Oct 21, 2017 - United World Infrastructure (UWI), the Dubai and Washington-DC based firm that funds, develops and manages next generation cities, contributed to an expert panel discussion on Happiness & Wellness, at the 2017 Urban Thinkers Campus (UTC) held in Dubai.

UTC is an initiative established by the UN-Habitat, based on the theme “The City We Need”, and planned to provide an open forum for critical discussion between opinion leaders in the urban industry, who concede that urbanization is an opportunity for cities to be transformed in a positive way.

Aubrilyn Reeder, Senior Manager, head of Economic Clusters, and lead developer of UWI’s proprietary Happiness & Wellbeing Index launched in the Middle East this year, was invited to contribute as part of an expert panel discussion about Wellness and Happiness at UTC, where she shared insights into how economists and psychologists measure happiness through individual surveys, and ways in which these measures could be used to inform urban design and city services to help improve people’s quality of life.

“The global urban population will grow by 2 billion people in the next 30 years which presents an opportunity to re-imagine cities and to make them better. There are well-researched ways to measure how people are feeling about their lives. When we use these measures with other social, economic, and environmental factors, to inform how we design and manage cities, we are able to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Meeting rising urbanization demands with highly livable cities requires a collaborative effort between governments, investors, economists, urban planners, sociologists, psychologists, and other experts. UTC helps bring together these professionals from diverse perspectives and sectors to re-imagine urbanization challenges as opportunities,” says Ms. Reeder.

The Wellness & Happiness session was moderated by Mariam Yasin, Wellness Consultant, Trainer and Blogger and based on the premise that Wellness & Happiness are an essential human need. Participants discussed designing communities for healthier and happier living, highlighting Dubai’s best practices through Smart Dubai, and possible new initiatives such as encouraging building developers to apply for WELL Building certification which supports the health of employees, introducing elements of surprise through temporary pop-ups, and finding ways to involve community members in decision-making.

Experts in this discussion included: Dr. Louise Lambert (PhD Northcentral University, USA- Positive Psychology professor at the Canadian University of Dubai), Dr. Ali Al Azzawi (City Experience Advisor, from the Smart Dubai Office), and Daxita Rajcoomar (HSE Senior Manager at du telecoms LEED AP, WELL AP, WELL Faculty, CSO).

After experts presented their vision for creating happier and healthier cities, participants engaged with the speakers through a roundtable discussion.

“Community engagement emerged as an important tool to developing and managing cities in a way which impacts happiness. This includes assessing how individuals feel about their community, providing platforms and forums in which people are able to contribute their ideas and feedback, and communicating what is happening in communities.

Some cities have apps which allow residents to report maintenance issues. In Dubai, residents rate their satisfaction with governmental services online and these results are reported to ministers in real time. These are just a few examples of how digital urban innovation can help the community affect decision-making, but there is room for more,” she added.

Principal at UWI, Vafa Valapour said, “The built environments of a city, and their associated policies and services, significantly impacts happiness and wellbeing. UWI is working to build happier cities worldwide, and we continue to examine the relevant expertise required to create next generation cities”.

“We are pleased that UWI’s proprietary Happiness & Wellbeing Index could inform the conversation, and complement the rich roundtable discussions at UTC. Globally, community happiness and wellbeing measures are gaining greater relevance for governmental leaders. UWI works with governments to help gather and analyze these measures and develop built environments, policies, and services which can help improve them,” added Mr. Valapour.

Organized by Dubai Real Estate Institute and the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), the 2017 UTC title is “Future Cities Forum 2017 – Shaping the Future for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)”, and took place over three days, from 02-04 October at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai.



Operating globally, United World Infrastructure (UWI) invests in the acquisition, development, and management of real-estate and infrastructure assets to stimulate economic growth, technology transfer, and foreign direct investment. Committed to people-centric communities, UWI transforms underutilized land into real-estate assets that attract development catalysts such as theme parks, hospitals, and schools. Its infrastructure assets for new cities include: road networks, water and drainage systems, sewage systems, electricity, telecom networks, and systems for renewable energy and recycling to ensure environmental sustainability. UWI’s financial products, including yield-driven development models and infrastructure and commercial concessions, optimize returns to city investors. Recently, UWI began offering advisory services to governments and government-linked entities to advance the development of happier cities through measurement and targeted policy, infrastructure, and service recommendations.


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