Is Abu Dhabi Deserving of Best City In Middle East – Med Region?

Beating out Marrakech, Doha and Amman, luxurious “rich man’s playgrounds” like Al Reem Island cast a shadow on Abu Dhabi’s Best City designation

Like its neighboring UAE city, Dubai, Abu Dhabi has recently been before the public eye as a place where a number of interesting and unique environmental projects have either been proposed or have actually taken place. As a result, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has been voted as the Best City in the Middle East and North African Region (MENA) for the year 2010. The voting was part of a study conducted by the Middle East’s  job site and research specialists YouGovSiraj, and reported on the regional news site 

“Carbon  free” Masdar City

According to the sifi article, Abu Dhabi scored highest among a group of ten cities that included Muscat, Dubai, Manama, Tunis, Sharjah, Doha, Kuwait City, Marrakech and Amman.

Criteria being considered included employment opportunities, housing and quality of life for employees and their families, social cultural factors, and wage protection systems and labor rights.

In the environmental sector, Abu Dhabi was rated most favorable in areas such as clean air and water, roads and highways, and “fairly” comfortable weather.

Such a rating will undoubtedly provide a boost to Abu Dhabi’s various “environmental” real estate projects which include those on Al Reem Island, in which we wrote about as containing “two 300 meter high business and residential towers” on a piece of land comprising only 6.33 sq. kilometers.

This unique project, touted by some observers as being built to be “a playground for the rich” is said to be constructed by a 12,800 strong labor force that has been brought there exclusively for the completion of these grandiose structures.

Taking the region’s notoriety for having excruciatingly hot summers, the lot of this 12,000 strong work force may not be as comfortable as being conducive to the high rating that Abu Dhabi has now received for its “quality of life” – especially for workers from countries such as Bangladesh, who often have to sleep on the roofs of their cramped and uncomfortable living quarters during summers where daytime temperatures soar to as much as 40 degrees Celsius and to over 29 degrees Celsius at night. For these “ex-pat” workers, quality of life is not really part of their lot.

Foreign workers who build these projects do not enjoy “la dolce vita”

One particularly innovative environmental project in Abu Dhabi is the well publicized carbon-free commercial and residential project Masdar City, which is still under construction and is being billed as the most unique project of its kind in the world.

Although this project, slated to be completed “sometime after the year 2015” is being planned as a harbinger for future world residential projects, many skeptics are wondering if this pie in the sky project, if completed, will really be a “practical community innovation” or just and expensive showcase  in a region which also boasts such non-environmentally friendly items as white gold Mercedes Benz sports cars which we hailed as another dubious green development.

The white gold Mercedes

In light of these factors, there should be some credit given to efforts being made by Abu Dhabi to create a better quality of life for its inhabitants; as well as preserve the unique wildlife that still live in waters off of Abu Dhabi’s Bu Tinah Atoll, one of the finalist locations for the 7 World Wonders contest.

Bu Tinah Atoll

Abu Dhabi does have lot going for it; but it also has a number of social and environmental issues that need attending to. And the sooner, the better.

More articles on Abu Dhabi environmental issues and sites:

Masdar City in Abu Dhabi Could be Practical Innovation or Expensive Showcase

Rare Sea Turtles and Other Wildlife Living Happily on Persian Gulf Atoll

Abu Dhabi’s Solid Gold “Biofuel” Mercedes – Another Dubious “Green” Development

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