Abu Dhabi 4

Development and Sustainability – Aired May 2008

Many countries in the Arabian Gulf today are keen to diversify their economy by shifting their focus away from the energy sector. The United Arab Emirates is leading the region in this push towards diversification.

All this while it is Dubai that has captured the attention of the international audience, but now the capital Abu Dhabi is revealing plans that promise to set itself centre-stage.

But what are this emirate’s plans for the future?

What is Abu Dhabi undertaking to increase foreign awareness?

And with global warming becoming a major issue for the rest of the world, what is Abu Dhabi answer to environmental issues?

Join Asia Business Channel as we explore this fast-emerging city, and take a closer look at its development plans.

This capital city of the Emirates is currently undergoing a transformation with new developments happening in all corners of the city, and yet it remains a peaceful place with most major attractions unharmed and undisturbed.

Abu Dhabi also has a strong entrepreneurial culture, and is the wealthiest of all the emirates.

All this success would not have been possible without the vision of the late President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was the driving force behind the creation of the UAE. Pouring oil revenues into better infrastructure, health services, and education, he improved the lives of his people.

Abu Dhabi is the largest oil producer in the UAE, controlling 85% of the federation’s total oil output and 90% of crude reserves. Despite its oil wealth, the emirate has realised the many benefits that investment can bring, and liberalisation is gathering pace.

Being both the political and business capital of the federation, it is home to many international companies, banks, state broadcasters and most of the oil companies. In less than half a century, it has a per capita GDP that exceeds many Western European countries, and is well on its way to becoming a state-of-the-art metropolis.

Until recently, the emirate remained an undiscovered jewel on the international travel map. Today, more and more foreign visitors are discovering this unique and captivating destination.

Abu Dhabi brings together old world charm and cosmopolitan sophistication in a clean and safe environment. A destination for the discerning traveller, the emirate has something for everyone – from the bustle and excitement of a dynamic 21st century city to endless unspoiled beaches, the tranquillity of the desert, rugged mountain scenery and lush green oases.

The emirate combines year-round sunshine and superb facilities for leisure and recreation with the spice and mystique of an Arabian adventure. Steeped in the ancient culture and heritage of Arabia, the strong tradition of desert hospitality lives on in the genuine warmth and friendliness that welcomes the visitor.

When the revenues from oil began flooding in in the 1970s, the banking sector in the UAE began to see huge capital inflows. Today, banking is one of the pillars of the country’s economy.

Modern technology, solid regulation and competition have improved customer choice and service.

With an average annual growth rate of 21%, Abu Dhabi is now the second most capitalised banking centre in the Arab world, and is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of asset size.

The Abu Dhabi securities market has been in operation since 2000 and has since then seen a stong increase in trading in recent years:

Based on centuries of tradition, Islamic banking has become globally popular over the last two decades. Within ten years, Islamic banking will probably account for almost 60% of the total savings of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.

Islamic banking is based on Shariah law which forbids “ribah” or interest, in favour of profit sharing. Losses are shared on the basis of equity participation while profits are shared on a pre-agreed ratio.

The real estate market in Abu Dhabi is said to be one of the most promising in the Gulf. With plans for even more future growth and development in place, this is a sector that is primed for major expansion.

One of the key projects that is much talked about in the city is the development of Saadiyat Island. To be completed by 2018, it will be the largest single natural island development in the region. The centre piece of Saadiyat Island will be the Cultural District, featuring world class institutions and facilities designed by the most renowned names in international architecture. Future projects include; The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the innovatively designed Performing Arts Centre.

Another hyper modern island which is currently being built is Al Reem Island. It lies in close proximity to the airport.

Shams Abu Dhabi on Al Reem Island contains one of the most exciting projects: the Tameer Towers. The development will be highlighted by a 300-metre business tower, which will be the tallest business tower in Abu Dhabi.

But what is Abu Dhabi doing when it comes to sustainable development? The UAE is looked upon as being extremely pollutant and with all this construction going on this is only poised to get worse over the next few years

Masdar City is one of the flagship projects of the One Planet Living programme – a global initiative launched by the World Wildlife Fund and in January 2008, Abu Dhabi announced it will Invest a whopping $15 billion in Masdar, the largest single government investment of its kind

It will become the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. Carbon emissions reduced by Masdar City will be monetized under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism.

Masdar will maximize the benefits of sustainable technologies, such as photovoltaic cells and concentrated solar power, through an integrated planning and design approach.

With all this development already in place and with plans for more development over the coming years, it is important that the growth of the city is managed in a co-ordinated and sustainable way.

To this effect, the government of Abu Dhabi has come up with a long-term plan for the city. The Urban Structure Framework Plan, also known as “Plan Abu Dhabi 2030”, It presents a coherent picture for the sustainable future of the city.

The plan outlines a way to take advantage of the economic opportunities at hand, without sacrificing the character of the city. Opportunities for growth and new elements that will help to make it a metropolis are also highlighted.

Targeted to the year 2030 and an expected population of over 3 million people, the plan is conceived so that it can continue to grow in a compatible way to 5 million people or even more.

With a strong foundation already in place, Abu Dhabi’s position as a prime and safe location will only be strengthened with the city’s new plans, as the emirate continues to strive towards sustainable development.

The future for this capital city of an already booming country looks set to be even more promising. Investors who come to its shore can rest assured that the opportunities offered are golden and long-term.