The second annual Middle East Lighting Design Awards (MELDA) event has been announced by organizers IIR Exhibitions.

The follow-up to last year’s successful inaugural event will again provide a showcase during the 2008 PALME Middle East show, which takes place at Dubai’s International Exhibition Center, April 27-29, and outstanding achievements in the GCC territories will be celebrated at an Awards Gala dinner on April 27 at The Dusit Hotel, Dubai, UAE.

MELDA event manager, Claire Brookes, states, “In our endeavor to recognize excellence, we have extended the scope of the Awards following the success of last year and the credibility and prestige it brought to the winners.”

Submissions are now being accepted and those eligible for entry are any projects completed between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007within the Middle East region, including the GCC, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and Egypt. The deadline for entries is January 31, 2008.

The categories include:

Public Buildings—historic buildings, museums, galleries, airports, places of worship, government buildings
Exterior—building façades, bridges, structures, public spaces, landscaped areas, street lighting
Hospitality & Leisure—hotels, entertainment centres, theatres, cinemas, sports venues
Retail—shopping malls, department stores, boutiques, showrooms
Restaurants & Bars—restaurants, bars, coffee shops
Temporary Installations—temporary and one off lighting installations, exhibitions, lighting for concerts, corporate events

There will also be a number of Product Innovation Categories recognizing innovative products launched commercially between January 2007 and January 2008. These will include: Luminaires (internal and external); Supporting Lighting Technologies; Environmental (this product must demonstrate how environmental and economic issues are balanced in the design and development).

Finally, the blue riband award will be the prestigious Middle East Lighting Project of the Year. This will be a project that, in the judges’ opinion, will have exhibited exceptional lighting design skills, innovation, and vision. There will be no direct submission for this category; candidates will be short listed from projects submitted in the previous categories.

The adjudicating panel will be made up from a number of industry experts, including Ziad Fattouh, senior principal, Delta Lighting Solutions; George Katodrytis B.A. (Hons), A.A. Dip., R.I.B.A., associate professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah, UAE; Markus Stebich, director of Development, Spa & Interiors, Jumeirah; Riad Saraiji, associate professor of Architectural Engineering, United Arab Emirates University; and Shaun Killa, Principal Architect & Head of Design, Atkins.

Ziad Fattouh sees the Middle East Lighting Design Awards as a way in which the design community can acknowledge and reward innovation, and thus promote design excellence in the region. MELDA also helps recognize the importance of lighting design within the field of architectural and interior design. “Judging for this year’s entries will be based on achievement of set design objectives,” he believes. “It will also be important for me to see an out-of-the-box approach to design, high on creative thought.”

Markus Stebich added that the MELDA awards should be seen in the context of the phenomenal rate of development taking place in the Middle East. “The Awards have a particularly important role to play because the pace of development has often left issues of design quality lagging behind. Fortunately, with the increasing level of development and competition among developers has come a growing awareness of the importance of good design in adding not only commercial value but also quality of life to a project.

“The MELDA Awards recognize and promote this growing appreciation of quality in design. They also draw attention to the high level of creativity in the region, which often goes unrecognised due to the lack of forums to highlight and promote it. The MELDA awards help fill this gap.”

Riad Saraiji confirmed this, adding, “Proper lighting is essential to building architecture and city nightscape. Because of climatic conditions, night time activities in the Middle East are quite frequent—and this gives special importance to architectural lighting. New advances in the field have provided lighting designers with a variety of options to enhance building exteriors as well as interiors.”

All judges will be looking for creativity and innovation, the strength and application of the concept, the use of new technologies, and an understanding of how lighting contributes to the overall project. At the same time the lighting should be free of glare, integrate with the building components and convey the architecture of the building.

The MELDA Awards are being backed by a number of recognized trade associations, including the IALD and LUCI.
Mondo*arc will be involved in sponsorship of the event, with Justin Gawne, Mondiale Publishing chief executive, stating, “We are delighted to be sponsoring the 2008 MELDA Awards, as it highlights and rewards good lighting design within one of the most dynamically developing environments in the world today.”