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Will Abu Dhabi Help Create a Sustainable Dubai?

Terry Mock, SLDI Co-founder

By Terry Mock
Follow Terry on Twitter: @SustainLandDev

December 2009

As editorialized here in a previous column, if ever there was an urban area anywhere on Earth that epitomized the excesses of the boom years between 2002 and 2007, it has to be Dubai. A sign that this large-scale land development extravaganza was veering to unsustainable excess should have been Dubai’s decision to erect a 200-story building that would make it the world’s tallest structure. Other telltale signs should have been Dubai’s determination to build the world’s largest man-made artificial islands as well as a major ski resort in the desert – all developed with dwindling oil reserves, and without a source of sustainable food, fresh water or energy production for its burgeoning class-based society.

Now the financial bubble has burst and Dubai World, the emirate’s largest state-owned conglomerate, has requested a “standstill” of subsidiary real estate company Nakheel’s bondholders. The crisis in Dubai has gone beyond debt and become one surrounding the credibility of its leadership. Dubai World’s failure to honor its obligations has shaken faith among the international investment community in the emirate’s normally ebullient promotion of over-the-top, land-development practices. Dubai’s oil-rich banker brother, Abu Dhabi, is now in a position to require a price for restoring faith that is likely to be much more than just prudent borrowing and greater transparency. It is likely to be a demand for a restructuring at the top and a return to more sustainable principles.

Less than 100 miles away from the broken dream of Dubai World, a new city based on a very different dream is rising in Abu Dhabi. Being built from the ground up with sustainable living in mind, Masdar City “…will bring together the best-of-breed clean technologies: building-integrated solar photovoltaics and solar glass, solar hot water systems, smart grid technology, electric transportation, power storage, sustainable agriculture and vertical farming, water recycling and desalination, low-energy HVAC, green building materials, waste-to-energy systems… essentially everything but wind energy.”

Hopefully, under Abu Dhabi’s new guiding influence, Dubai will adopt a more sustainable development model that pursues a better balanced, triple-bottom-line return for the long-term benefit of all stakeholders. Earlier in this year of unprecedented crisis and opportunity, SLDI offered to newly-elected US President Barack Obama, and now respectfully submits to the UAE – the World’s 1st Sustainable Land Development Best Practices System that balances and integrates the needs of people, planet and profit into a holistic model that helps land development projects achieve greater success in each area.

Your participation and comments are welcome.

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Upstart Dubai Turns To Staid Abu Dhabi for Aid
What Will Abu Dhabi Buy With Its Bailout?
Troubles Play into Abu Dhabi’s Hands
What Dubai Can Learn From Vegas
Abu Dhabi Realty Perturbed By Dubai World Crisis?
Welcome To Masdar City
Masdar City Offers $150,000 Prize For Sustainable Concrete Mix


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  • http://www.triplepundit.com/author/sldi/ Terry Mock

    UPDATE:

    UAE sets up $2.7 billion development bank

    21 October 2011

    By Reuters
    DUBAI

    The United Arab Emirates will establish the Emirates Development Bank (EDB) with $10 billion dirhams ($2.7 billion) in capital to fund real estate and industrial projects and diversify the economy, Gulf Arab state’s finance ministry said.

    The funds will be used to help citizens build property, establish a business and fund agricultural or craft-related projects, the UAE Finance Ministry said in a statement.

    The plan to set up the EDB dates back to 2008 when the UAE government said it would merge Islamic lenders Tamweel and Amlak ̶ both hit badly by the collapse of Dubai’s real estate sector ̶ and fold them into a little-known state-run entity called Real Estate Bank.

    That in turn was to be combined with Emirates Industrial Bank (EIB) to form the EDB. But the plan did not materialize and Tamweel became majority-owned by Dubai Islamic Bank in 2010.

    The economy of the world’s No. 4 oil exporter has been recovering in 2011 from a $25 billion debt restructuring at Dubai’s flagship conglomerate Dubai World… http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/10/21/172914.html

  • http://twitter.com/SustainLandDev SLDI

    UPDATE:

    August 2012
    Dubai Property Bounces Back – http://j.mp/PSOX4W Is It Sustainable?

  • http://twitter.com/SustainLandDev SLDI

    Bloomberg
    Giant Taj Mahal Can’t Hide Dubai’s Weak Real Estate Market
    By Zainab Fattah – Oct 24, 2012
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-23/giant-taj-mahal-can-t-hide-weakness-of-dubai-s-property-market.html

    “The market has improved to some extent, but there isn’t enough to justify going ahead with all the projects that are now being talked about,” said Craig Plumb, head of research for the Middle East at the Chicago-based property broker. “They should be phased over a longer period and should be built in line with demand.”

  • http://twitter.com/SustainLandDev SLDI

    Land Development Consolidation in Abu Dhabi – http://j.mp/Yl8yiZ