Abu Dhabi rolls out 20-year urban plan for capital

Development plan includes homes for up to 50,000 people, public transport system

Abu Dhabi is planning a 20-year overall of the city, including housing, infrastructure and transport

Abu Dhabi is planning a 20-year overall of the city, including housing, infrastructure and transport

Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE and home to 7 percent of the world’s oil supply, unveiled a 20-year urban development plan that it says is flexible enough to respond to global economic changes.

The project for the downtown area, part of an investment plan called Vision 2030, will focus on upgrading infrastructure to accommodate population growth and adding developments such as housing for as many as 50,000 people, shopping malls, roads and a public transportation system, officials with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council told reporters in the capital Tuesday.

“We’re planning for the coming 20 years so our plans are always flexible, subject to changes based on the variables or the changes that are happening around us,” said the chief engineer of the project, Amr Hamade.

He wouldn’t disclose the estimated cost, saying he expects it to change over the course of the work.

Designers highlighted a “walk-ability and live-ability” theme, which includes new techniques to protect residents from sun and temperatures that soar above 50C.

Abu Dhabi spent $20bn in 2009 to bail out the neighbouring emirate of Dubai, which struggled to repay debts. Abu Dhabi’s government spending exceeded revenue by AED84.9bn ($23.1bn) in 2010, down from AED126.5bn in 2009, according to a preliminary bond prospectus for Waha Aerospace, whose parent, Waha Capital, is majority-owned by the government.

While the emirate, which is home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, is sticking to its plan to invest $500bn in industry and tourism by 2030, its property market is suffering along with Dubai’s, with local banks lending less and companies reassessing business plans.

Abu Dhabi property prices have slid 55 percent since the market’s peak in mid-2008, according to Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank. Prices may decline another 25 percent to 30 percent, a Rasmala analyst, Saud Masud, wrote in March.

The government in March 2010 bought assets on Yas Island, home to the emirate’s Formula One racetrack, from Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest real-estate developer, for AED9.14bn. Aldar that month became the first company in the emirate to get a “junk” rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 targets seven percent annual growth through 2015 and six percent thereafter. The International Monetary Fund said in April that the emirate’s economy would grow 3.5 percent in 2011.


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