Can "Green Cities" Like Masdar Translate in Abu Dhabi?

green city of abu dhabi photoAbu Dhabi to build new green city in Middle East.

It sits in the middle of a harsh, barren desert, sweltering in searing heat. It has no clean water, its sea is polluted and there is no topsoil, just a covering of sand. It is also the biggest per capita consumer of fuel, massively reliant on cars, power-hungry desalination and air-conditioning.

And with all this, can the United Arab Emirate state of Abu Dhabi really succeed in building a new “green city” in the Middle East?

If you can believe visionary people like architect Gerard Evenden (his words above), from the British architectural firm Foster & Partners, yes it can. Billions of dollars are riding on the assumption.

Masdar City is the project Evenden is referring to. Masdar City is a $22 billion USD project being financed by the  Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company and is largely designed and planned by Foster & Partners.

So how is this so-called totally green city going to work in one of the hottest and driest regions on earth? According to Evenden, this futuristic project of 6 million square meters will eventually house around 50,000 people and will be completely environmentally sustainable – in every possible way.

As he noted in a recent Financial Times article The Greening of Arabia, by Edwin Heathcote : “if you can make it work here, you can make it work anywhere.”

In one of Green Prophet’s previous articles on Masdar City it was noted that: “the project will be one in which commercial and residential entities will blend with each other to create a totally harmonious and ‘zero carbon’ environment, where all lighting and air conditioning systems will be powered by a 40 to 60 megawatt solar power plant, a 20 megawatt wind farm, and geo-thermal and hydrogen based power.”

The construction itself will be such as to shelter the inhabitants from the blistering Arabian sun and will include specially constructed walls, screens and meshes to allow breezes to enter and keep sunlight out as much as possible.

All this sounds absolutely wonderful and almost too good to be true. But as we pointed out earlier, Masdar City could either be a practical community innovation or expensive showcase.

The project has one big drawback – the construction itself.  Any true environmentalist knows that a significant construction project, such as the many that have been going on in various locations of the UAE, can in themselves be very damaging to an environment that is very fragile, to say the least.

Anyone visiting these locations must sometimes wonder at what expense to the environment these projects will cause, including island projects like Abu Dhabi’s planned $27 billion USD Saadiyat Island commercial, residential and leisure time project currently under construction, and mooted to become Abu Dhabi’s cultural center.

But once completed, Masdar City will hopefully prove to be as green and sustainable as its planners and developers say it will;  and will not be just a “showcase” project as Saadiyat Island looks to be by many.

What do you think? Voice your opinion below in our comments.

More green reading on Abu Dhabi:
Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Israel all set Renewable Energy Goals
Abu Dhabi’s Podcar People Mover
Abu Dhabi Builds World’s Largest Solar Powered Hot Water Project
A Green Prophet’s Visit to Abu Dhabi
Masdar City Breaks Ground This Month


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20 thoughts on “Can "Green Cities" Like Masdar Translate in Abu Dhabi?”

  1. Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

  2. Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

  3. Interesting post. I have made a twitter post about this. Others no doubt will like it like I did.

  4. miekevervecken says:

    I aim wondering if this project has any vision ont he ecological impact of food. Will there be stimulus to consider this to the in habitants?

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  9. Maurice Picow says:

    Sounds good. Keep us informed of developments there.

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  12. PacificGreen says:

    We are working with the architects to provide Palmwood screens and meshes for the project. From a supplier side theyve been proactive in terms of the green credentials of the materials and companies used. Am travelling out to the site in a fortnight; looking forward to seeing first hand what theyre doing on the construction side.

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