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Eye on the ball

Names & Faces - Football may not be the number one sport in the searing heat of the Gulf, but Arup's Brian Cullinane is determined to give it a go.

'It is a bit too hot to play football in Dubai at the moment, but I might find a team when it cools down in the next couple of months, ' says Arup's latest senior consultant in the Gulf, Brian Cullinane.

Formerly of Arup's environment team in London, Cullinane has moved out to the company's new Dubai office to act as the focal point and facilitator for the development of Arup's planning business in the Middle East. He will be working across the whole region.

'Really, we are interested in masterplanning work. It gives a lot of opportunity to bring in a range of services from environmental to infrastructure to urban design, ' he says.

'In terms of the pace of work there really is nowhere comparable at the moment and that puts a lot of pressure on the environment. The common consensus is that this [the environment] wasn't always taken into account at an early enough stage, but, increasingly, clients are asking for environmental impact assessments.

The United Arab Emirates has just set up its own Green Buildings Council, which is extremely important, ' he says, alluding to the fact that environmental planning and sustainability are becoming increasingly important to clients in the Middle East.

'The biggest challenge is going to be convincing clients of the need to take the environmental impacts of development into account at a much earlier stage and allow that to influence and shape planning, ' he says.

Cullinane admits that he has a far greater challenge looming. 'I am getting married in December and the wedding is going to be in London, ' he laughs.

'I must be the only person mad enough to be arranging a wedding in London from the Gulf.'

Q&A Brian Cullinane

Career highlight: The thing that sticks most in the memory is a project I worked on shortly after leaving college, preparing local area action plans for rural communities. It culminated in asking people to prioritise actions for their area by giving them each 10 kidney beans and assigning a number of beans to each action in order of priority.

It was a lot of fun and proved that the simple approach is often the most effective.

Things I would save if my house was on fire: My Apple laptop, because it contains all my music and pictures; my lucky Irish rugby mascot; and my girlfriend (not necessarily in that order).

Top tip: Don't be afraid to act on your instincts; always check your baggage allowance.

Most unlikely fact: When playing football for my local team I once scored a staggering four goals in one season and then went three seasons without scoring a goal.

Source of inspiration: I read Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, last year and found that to be very uplifting.

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