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A new metropolitan city emerges from the desert

Zaha Hadid Architects | Foster + Partners

A new metropolitan city emerges from the desert
By Silvia Monti -

The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi City, sprang up half-way through the eighteenth century as a fishermen and hunters’ village. Its identity would be brusquely transformed when petroleum was discovered there in the mid twentieth century and the United Arab Emirates came into being in 1971. Nowadays it is a calmly efficient city of nearly a million inhabitants.
Recent attention has spotlighted Abu Dhabi as an investment area, bringing the opportunities and risks of rapid and perhaps explosive growth. Development is fundamental to appease the ambitions of the government, but it needs to come about in a controlled way.
This is the background to the 2007 UAE government decree by which the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council was set up, the organism in charge of urban development and promoter of the visionary Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 which will determine the new profile of Abu Dhabi as a metropolis, ensuring sustainability, efficient infrastructure and a planned community which is due this quarter century to grow to over three million.
The whole plan stands or falls by specific practical analysis of the Abu Dhabi environment - a land where desert meets the Persian Gulf, whose biodiversity must be respected and preserved. Such large-scale planning is a unique opportunity to apply the latest principles of sustainability, explore renewable sources of energy and transform the city into an open, industrious, progressive metropolitan capital. To decide how to safeguard, enhance and upgrade the environment is the all-important first planning step, followed by the publishing of standards for implementing change based on scientific research and modern technology.
The plan outlines in detail how energy is to be saved and natural resources managed, whilst also underlining the educational side to these issues. The first phase to be achieved by 2015 entails drawing up macro guidelines for the entire infrastructural grid, and more detailed plans for...

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