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The UAE is building several sustainable, smart, and energy-efficient cities

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has performed well in global rankings on creating smart cities. It is part of the its plan for digital transformation and a tool to diversify its economy. It is worth nothing that the UAE is one of the leading countries in the field of digital transformation in the Arab world.

With that said, the UAE is building several sustainable, smart, and energy-efficient cities. It is regulating renewable energy through technology and architectural design.

The UAE’s first step in transforming traditional cities into smart ones was the launch of the UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025. The strategy’s main goal is to create a broad government commitment to include digital aspects across all sectors. The strategy was designed based on 8 dimensions:

  • Leaving no one behind
  • Resilient
  • Fit for the digital age
  • User-driven
  • Digital by design
  • Data-driven
  • Open by default
  • Proactiveness

This initiative was followed by other projects, such as providing areas with free Wi-Fi service, smart means of transportation, and electricity through alternative energy. Today the UAE has more than one smart city, which we will take a look at below:

Abu Dhabi’s sustainable cities

Abu Dhabi has developed a plan to transform its economy from one based on natural resources to one based on knowledge, innovation, and technology. This leads to the diversification of its economy through creating several new economic alternatives. One of the main steps in this strategy is developing a smart city.

The UAE capital aims to achieve this by developing appropriate sustainable infrastructure as one of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030’s priorities. The Abu Dhabi government is working on developing a professionally designed and well-managed urban environment in cities and towns, accompanied by world-class transportation systems.

Masdar City

Masdar City is considered one of the first sustainable cities in the Middle East that has adopted a green footprint. It accommodates rapid urban expansion, reduces energy and water consumption, pollution, and waste.

The complex is a model of sustainable urban development. Moreover, it is witnessing development in the projects it is implementing in partnership with developers, investors, and private sector companies.

The city’s design embodies a harmonious blend of traditional Arab architecture and modern technology. It also benefits from fresh air traffic to provide natural coolness that ensures a comfortable atmosphere during high summer temperatures.

Masdar City also benefits from the sun’s rays by producing solar energy generated using solar panels installed on the roofs of buildings. Additionally, it has one of the largest photovoltaic installations in the Middle East.

Abu Dhabi has been planning Masdar City since 2006. The Masdar City Master Plan includes the following main components:

  • Optimal exploitation of solar energy by developing efficiency gains and optimal routing of the city’s energy network
  • Integrating aspects of life in the city in a way that makes life easy and happy. Housing is available in affiliated locations, leading to reduced use of transportation.
  • Constructions and buildings of limited height and size
  • Providing and developing public facilities for a social and happy life, while paying attention to pedestrians and balanced means of transportation
  • Providing a high-quality life within a smart ecosystem

Zayed Smart City

In 2018, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality launched the pilot phase of the five-year plan for smart cities and artificial intelligence (AI) under the name Zayed Smart City Project.

The project aims to manage infrastructure elements using the Internet of Things (IoT). It aims to anticipate the future, activate the innovation system, and achieve world-class infrastructure.

Digital Dubai

In October 2013, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced the project to transform Dubai into a smart city. Thus, he launched Dubai’s Digital Strategy which aims to digitize life in Dubai. It seeks a reliable and strong digital system that enhances the digital economy and empowers the digital society. It also seeks to double the outcomes of the digital economy and increase the quality of life by 90 percent. Moreover, it aims to launch 50 digital city experiences that are seamless, interconnected, proactive, predictable, and high-impact.

Finally, it aims to qualify more than 50,000 government cadres with advanced digital qualifications.

The strategy is centered on seven pillars: digital city, digital economy, data and statistics, digital talent, digital infrastructure, cyber security, and digital competitiveness.

Additionally, the Dubai Plan 2021 aimed, in one of its axes, to make Dubai a smart and sustainable city. Moreover, the Dubai Smart City project adopts a strategy of converting about 1,000 government services into electronic services. That is in the following main sectors: transportation, infrastructure, communications, financial services, city planning, and electricity.

Dubai Sustainable City

Dubai Sustainable City is considered one of the real estate projects that has adopted sustainability standards with its three main elements: economic, environmental, and social.

Developed in Dubailand, the city includes a range of initiatives to ensure the conservation of resources. This includes designing homes to ensure energy efficiency and using environmentally friendly building materials.

According to an article in Khaleej Times, the city recently won the ‘Happiest Community award at the Gulf Real Estate Awards in 2017 and 2018.

Moreover, the residences depend entirely on clean solar energy they produce, by installing solar panels on the facades and roofs. The city also follows an integrated approach to treating wastewater and household waste. Additionally, the city uses organic cleaning materials and green products. The project is surrounded by a green belt 30 meters wide, forming an important environmental habitat for birds and reptiles. It also helps reduce air and noise pollution.

Dubai Sustainable City has succeeded in achieving a relatively lower impact due to its efficient design and utilization of rooftop solar energy. Moreover, it includes other low-carbon initiatives, with per capita electricity and water consumption 30-42 percent lower than the Dubai average, respectively.

Dubai Silicon Oasis

The Silicon Park project expresses Dubai’s 2021 plan to transform the emirate into a smart city.

As of January 2016, Dubai Silicon Oasis had succeeded in reducing energy consumption by 31 percent. Thus, it exceeded the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 goals which seeks to reduce energy consumption by 30 percent. The oasis is currently working on several key initiatives that are being implemented within the framework of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. The clean energy strategy aims to enhance energy efficiency and reduce operational costs and carbon emissions.

Dubai South

Dubai South is a free economic zone and an exceptional investment destination due to its distinguished strategic location. Moreover, it has many advantages such as the possibility of ownership by foreigners. It also has a developed infrastructure and is located in the fastest-growing area in Dubai. In addition, it is in close proximity to several important facilities.

The city is only five minutes away from Al Maktoum International Airport, which is currently being expanded to become the largest airport in the world. It is also located 45 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and only 30 minutes away from Burj Khalifa and downtown Dubai.

The Dubai South project is keen to provide the latest advanced technologies for UAE’s smart and sustainable cities. It aims to integrate technology seamlessly into all parts of the residential area to provide quality-life solutions in the first place.

The concept of residential areas in Dubai South is based on the main societal issues stipulated in the Dubai Plan 2021. Thus, it aims to create a city that focuses mainly on providing all the elements of happiness and well-being for individuals. It seeks to provide a vibrant and integrated community suitable for families and working youth. Moreover, it includes all facilities, including schools, nurseries, hospitals, retail stores, and others.

The residential area in Dubai South is implementing two projects: The Villages and The Pulse Residential, located on an area of 87 million square feet. The projects are adjacent to the largest airport in the world and the Expo 2020 Dubai site. Moreover, their construction cost will reach AED25 billion.

Desert Rose City

Desert Rose City embodies Dubai’s policy of adopting a sustainable urban approach to protecting the environment. The city is located in the Al Ruwayah area and supports the application of green and clean technologies. It is characterized by reducing temperatures and purifying the air of pollutants.

The city will be 75 percent populated and will provide 40 percent of its electricity with 200 megawatts in total.

It contains 20,000 residential plots to house citizens in a smart, sustainable, and clean environment. The first phase is expected to accommodate approximately 160,000 people, including 120,000 citizens. The residents will be distributed according to cultural sustainability.

The city will rely on renewable energy, environmental requirements, and waste self-recycling. Moreover, the buildings will be able to reduce temperature and reduce electricity consumption.

Sharjah Sustainable City

Sharjah Sustainable City aims to create a world-class, sustainable, and happy community in the UAE. It is considered the first integrated community in Sharjah that consumes 0 percent energy.


Quelle/Source: Economy Middle East, 19.12.2023

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