A Cityscape interactive screen shows the ambitious scope of Abu Dhabi’s transformation as a world-class sustainable city by 2030.
Courtesy Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, Cityscape 2012 A Cityscape interactive screen shows the ambitious scope of Abu Dhabi’s transformation as a world-class sustainable city by 2030.

World-class public spaces are an integral part of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) vision for the Emirate. The UPC was created by law in 2007 to ensure the development throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi of professionally designed and well-managed urban environments, complete with world-class transport and infrastructure systems. Of note, the UPC has published an ambitious planning manifesto, “The Revolutionary Plan Abu Dhabi 2030,” offering a vision for the evolution of Abu Dhabi by providing a blueprint for Metropolitan Abu Dhabi’s long-term success based on the UPC’s core initiative of estidama, the Arab word for sustainability.

The five key roles of the UPC—in supporting the implementation of the 2030 vision—are:

1. To develop comprehensive plans for blocks, neighborhoods, districts, and regions across Abu Dhabi;

2. To assist in the implementation of all plans created by guiding, monitoring, and working with the implementation team and other government bodies;

3. To develop regulations, guidelines, and policies that will help guide planning and development in the Emirate;

4. To review and assess major strategic developments so that they comply with the plans, policies, regulations, and guidelines of Plan Capital 2030, Al Ain 2030, and Al Gharbia 2030, as well as with external government requirements; and

5. To incorporate and encourage estidama principles of sustainability into the built environment through the implementation of the Estidama Pearl Rating System.

Since publishing Plan Capital 2030 in late 2007, the UPC has been active in implementing it, with detailed master plans for communities and planning guides based on a locally appropriate vision of the place-making concepts coined by new urbanism. Last month, the UPC hosted an international conference, Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2012, showcasing progress on its Emirate-wide urban development strategy—Vision 2030.

“Planning complete sustainable communities is a benefit to all people and will improve the quality of life for residents in Abu Dhabi as we address the four sustainability pillars of estidama—environment, social, cultural, and economic. By doing so, we are developing suitable and sustainable community infrastructure across the Emirate that combines function with memorable, unique spaces and places that will connect residences to the community facilities, amenities, and services, thereby providing the appropriate context for public life,” said H.E. Falah Al Ahbabi, UPC general manager, during opening remarks.

Of special interest, the “Abu Dhabi Public Realm Design Manual” outlines the UPC planning principles and strategies. The first principle is “Livability: The public realm is a safe and comfortable space, where diverse activities can be experienced by all, contributing to people’s physical and mental wellness, and providing a high quality of life.”