August 21, 2018

The Big Interview – Nehme Moujaess

Nehme Moujaess

Nehme Moujaess established TerraVerde ten years ago. Here he talks about the challenges of running an outdoor design company in the UAE

How did you develop your interest in garden design and landscaping?
I have always had an appreciation for beauty. Naturally, I like to look at beautiful things and this is where my interest in design originates from. I look at gardens and landscapes specifically as it adds value and enriches the way we live. A garden isn’t just an outdoor space, but an extension and reflection of peoples’ personality and style.
What training and qualifications do you have?
I graduated from The American University of Beirut, achieving a BSc in Agricultural Sciences as well as completing a diploma in Agricultural Engineering. Academically, I then went on to accomplish an MSc in Soil Sciences, although I have learnt skills and procedures outside of education in more practical environments which, in my opinion, are equally important as a form of training. It’s my enthusiasm which motivates me to extend my knowledge and better myself in what I do. Taste is a result of self-development, style shows understanding and creativity generates an artistic touch.
How long have you been working within the landscape industry?
Just over 20 years in total.
How is your company structured and how does it operate?
Over the past 10 years TerraVerde has grown at a rapid rate and now accommodates over 400 members of staff . There are various levels within the company including execution teams and managerial staff . TerraVerde has a great team ethic with a high standard of personnel and professional individuals. The success of the company is due to excellent communication and cooperation, integrating and working together effectively.

Nehme Moujaess

Landscaping project recently Completed in Hattan, Arabian Ranches, Dubai

Do you outsource any aspects of TerraVerde’s services?
All of our services are executed internally within TerraVerde. We can handle the whole process, from the initial concept right through to completion. We provide turn-key solutions for luxury projects so it’s important we do this in-house to meet our own high standards, as well as matching the client’s high expectations. Sometimes TerraVerde is outsourced as we can deliver certain aspects of our services and essentially act as a sub-contractor for reputable contractors and architects. For example, landscape designer Kamelia Bin Zaal uses TerraVerde for our construction capabilities and top quality service.
Do you specialise in any particular type of project?
Primarily our clientèle falls within high end, private residential projects. We also work on some larger scale commercial developments, mainly across the residential and hospitality sectors. There’s a large spectrum of categories and types of projects we cover, but the clients we work with are passionate about innovative design and understand the value of creating a unique, exceptional outdoor space.

Nehme Moujaess

A project in Palm Jumeirah. Hatch provided by Cape Reed

Since the launch of TerraVerde, have you noticed any changes or patterns within the UAE market?
It’s a very dynamic market in the UAE so you have to strategise according to the actual market movement. You react to fluctuations rather than forecast or predict future trends.
What geographical areas do you cover?
Mostly we cover Dubai and Abu Dhabi but we have also completed projects in Sharjah and the other Emirate regions. We are operating mainly in the UAE for the time being but looking to expand to the other Gulf regions in
the near future.

Nehme Moujaess

Winning last year’s Dubai International Garden Competition

What are the most important factors you take into account when designing a garden for a client?
With a landscaping project you have to consider the layout, the location, the size and the condition of the current plot. This is standard practice for TerraVerde but it is the aesthetics of the design which makes the project more unique and personable. This is one of our advantages and it’s what differentiates us from other companies. With the actual finish, we go a step further and incorporate intangible aspects, like the style of the property inside and out, the tastes and culture of the client as well as considering relevant trends. Most people look at a space or project from an architectural perspective and prioritise with the hardscape, whereas we look at it from an agricultural and architectural point of view, adding more value to the space collectively, creating a nice unified balance.
What does the construction process consist of for TerraVerde?
Once we have received all the necessary information an initial concept will be created for the client. Once this is approved it will then go into the final design stage. We then follow up with our drawing and bill of quantities. If this is accepted and signed off , we begin the construction and installation once we obtain any necessary approval from the concerned authorities. We pride ourselves on our project delivery and it is our workmanship and integrity that has led us to previous successes, as well as completing on time.

What is your favourite project and why?
Every project TerraVerde has been associated with has been unique and has its own character. We do not repeat designs so I cannot say which is my favourite. Each scheme should be individual and diff erent because it refl ects the personality of the project. There are certain features on certain projects that I like more than others. I could visit any of our sites and I will have a nostalgic feeling and remember the goal that we wanted to achieve for that client.

Do you think there is a true understanding of the value of domestic gardens in the UAE?
I think people in this region have always understood the value of greenery in the desert. Residents of the UAE now realise the importance of durability and quality. They don’t just want a garden which is designed to please the eye; they want an area which is sustainable.

Nehme Moujaess

A Pool at Emirates Hills illuminated with fibre optic lighting

What inspires you?
The same thing which has inspired me from day one, beauty. I take inspiration from all beautiful things around me, whether it is the curves of a well-designed sports car, the geometric lines formed from contemporary architecture or even just the colours and textures from nature which surrounds us, we can all be inspired.
What does the future hold for you and for TerraVerde?
TerraVerde currently has a strong hold within the UAE and is somewhat of a recognised brand name across the regional landscaping industry. Over the past four years, we have developed interior design as a new branch of the company and we have also introduced bespoke carpentry to our already wide skill-set. This means that we can fulfil all the requirements of a project’s design brief and ensure that the interior integrates with the external landscape. We will certainly expand on these factors further and there’s no doubt we will continue to improve our overall service.

 

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