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Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the region's most sustainable cities

Dubai has been named as the region’s most sustainable city, but it still falls in the bottom half of a new global ranking of 100 major cities.

      Over the past century, Dubai has experienced a dramatic transformation. In 1900 it was estimated that only 10,000 people lived in a desert-like city. Dubai currently has a population of over 2.1 million people and receives between 8-10 million visitors per year. Today, Dubai is regarded as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. There is no doubt that the Emirati people have received great leadership to guide them through this visionary transformation. As we approach Expo 2020, Emiratis will discover what makes a sustainable city, and in particular, how Dubai will become the world’s most sustainable city.

      First of all, for a city to be sustainable it needs to encompass the three main pillars of sustainability: Environmental, Economic and Social sustainability. Ultimately, the key goal of any sustainable city should be to provide residents and workers with the highest quality of life together with the lowest environmental footprint.

      Construction consultancy Arcadis has placed Dubai 52nd in its 2016 Sustainable Cities Index, which was compiled by the Centre for Economic and Business Research. Abu Dhabi was the second-highest of eight cities ranked in the region, finishing 58th overall. The lowest-ranking regional city, finishing 86th overall, was Amman in Jordan. The ranking is based on three sub-indexes – people (social), planet (environmental) and profit (economic). Dubai scored extremely highly on the profit index – it was the fourth-highest city globally, ahead of New York, Paris and Tokyo. However, it was one of the lowest-scoring cities in the environmental ranking, finishing 96th out of 100. It lost points owing to high levels of energy consumption and pollution, as well as a lack of green spaces. Abu Dhabi only finished one place above Dubai (95th) in the environmental list, but also scored highly in the profit index (13th).

      Dubai aims to become one of the top 10 sustainable cities in the world by 2020, which means it much jump a whopping 40 places in just four years. Here are 8 initiatives that show that, in spite of its oil richness, UAE is serious about reigning supreme on sustainability. 

       Masdar City – Abu Dhabi

The project spreads over 700 hectares and will be completed by 2025. It aims to be one of the most sustainable cities in the world, by relying nearly exclusively on solar energy and other renewable sources. It aims to be a hub for clean-tech companies and will operate solely on clean energy.

It also hosts the headquarters of the International Renewal Energy Agency, an intergovernment organization that promotes the adoption of renewable energy.

       The Sustainable City, Dubai 

The project covers the three major aspects – social, economic and environmental – and is aiming to become a global landmark for ecotourism and sustainable living. It will have 11 biodomes and hopes to integrate urban agriculture. It aims to be the first net-zero energy city in Dubai. In January, Dubai’s Sustainable City switched on green energy for over 500 villas by installing over 5,000 solar panels in the area.

      Desert Rose

A 14,000-hectare smart city expected to accommodate 20,000 plots for Emiratis and will cost 20 billion AED to build. Roofs in the neighborhood will be covered with solar panels which will provide over 20,000 watts of electricity; 40,000 cubic meters of waste water will be recycled. 

      Oasis Eco Resort, Abu Dhabi

The Oasis Eco Resort aims to be one of the greenest resorts in the world. The resort will be located in Liwa, the southern region of UAE, and is scheduled to open in 2020.

      Dubai Pearl 

Dubai Pearl promises the luxury expected in Dubai with more environmentally responsible construction. Its developers say the complex will attain LEED gold certification, which means that the buildings will be resource efficient as they will use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

      Solar energy parks

Earlier this year, the UAE unveiled a 48 sq km solar energy park that promises 1,000 megawatt capacity upon completion. The local energy authority is mulling strategies, including a carbon market scheme, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. 

       Recycling bins 

You probably noticed them rolling out among the villas spread across the city. Please use them!


The UAE invests heavily in the use of treated sewage effluent for landscaping, which is a great solution amidst the rapid urbanization and the need for efficiency in water and energy resources.

Projects from this area

Marquise Square, Dubai

Spectacular views of the world’stallest tower. Just seconds from the Dubai Water Canal, anticipated to become the next Dubai Marina.

A striking 29-floor structure created by a highly regarded local Emirati family developer. Inside, a luxurious range of studio, onebedroom, two-bedroom and threebedroom apartments, finished to some of the finest standards in the city.

From just AED 895,000 with only a 15% deposit, this opportunity will also offer a solution to the huge undersupply of studio apartments at the very heart of Dubai.

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Al Sana

This is a five-story serviced apartment complex, located beside RAK Hospital, in Ras al Khaimah’s premier residential district.  The RAK Free Zone is only minutes away on traffic-free roads. 

Beaches, marinas, world class golf courses, shopping centers, hotels, and all the amenities of fast-growing Ras al Khaimah are easily accessible. Downtown Dubai is an hour’s drive on a superb highway.

Mountain View’s residential facilities are ideally located for any RAK-based businessman or professional seeking a luxurious, secure, centrally located residence. Build quality is of the highest international standard, with a US-based international project management firm supervising construction.

The ground floor of the Mountain View complex will have reception, offices, gym and other services for residents and guests. Each of the 5 floors above will hold a total of six serviced apartments. The 800 sq ft one-bedroom and 1200 sg ft two-bedroom serviced apartments are available with full ownership rights at special pre launch prices

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