Abu Dhabi: New Recycling Plants, Food Imports to Spike, New Urbanist Capital District

Slow news week with Eid Al-Adha, but the biggest event was trade magazine Construction Week’s annual conference, this year’s topic was “Building Sustainability in the Middle East.” (Construction Week)

Raw material at Plastic recycling plant at Al Ain Compost plant. / Image via The National.

Abu Dhabi’s population is expected to triple in 20 years — “from 977,000 residents in 2008 to 1.2 million in 2013, 1.73 million in 2020 and 2.58 million in 2030.” That’s going to put an enormous strain on resources, especially water. One of the emirate’s largest developers, Aldar Properties, said that it’s trying to find ways to re-use greywater (domestic wastewater) and blackwater (sewage and industrial water). (Construction Week) The emirate’s first plastics and tires recycling plant recently opened, too. (The National)

Food is another challenge — the GCC imports an incredibly high 90 percent of its food, with the UAE having only 0.8 percent of its land for agriculture. The country’s food imports are predicted to increase 133 percent by 2020. (Abu Dhabi Week)

Substantial growth in food industry highlighted at SIAL Middle East as research shows UAE food imports rising 133 percent to $8.4 billion by 2020. / Image via ADW.

Construction projects are moving along — the city’s Capital District should lead the way in sustainable and new urbanist neighborhoods. (Construction Week) And Saadiyat Island’s luxury JZMK-designed gated community villas (are those necessary in crime-free Abu Dhabi?) are slated to be handed over from TDIC by the end of 2012. (Construction Week) Meanwhile, Eshraq and Khatib and Alami are turning a profit on Al Reem island projects. (Construction Week)

Elsewhere in the region…

Populous' John Barrow wants to use wind towers to create fan-like air inside the stadium. / Image via Stadia Magazine.

Frost and Sullivan predicts construction boom in Qatar over next 20 years. (Construction Week) Populous, who’s slated to build air conditioned stadia for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, now wonders if they be cooled with traditional wind towers? (Stadia Magazine)

Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is hosting a tent city of 3 million pilgrims for Hajj. (Atlantic Cities) … One writer loves Tehran, the “complicated” capital of Iran. (Atlantic Cities) … Match your skyscraper with its window washers. (Atlantic Cities)

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Abu Dhabi Plan 2030

How do you plan a city that’s expected to triple or quintuple its population in less than 20 years? (The emirate’s population was 2 million in 2010, per SCAD.) How about if this same city is springing from the desert, with no infrastructure in place?

It’s an exciting challenge. But for Abu Dhabi, the city described above, there’s an ambitious and far-sighted framework in place: Plan 2030. Two different but interconnected plans (one economic, one urban planning) guide development. Intriguingly it’s for the whole emirate, so there are also plans for Al Ain, Al Gharbia aka Western Region, and Abu Dhabi’s forthcoming Parisian-styled Capital District.

Five themes weave together the urban plan: Environment, Society, Culture and Economy…or as the nifty video shows, four themes: Green, Live, Work, Connect.

Either way, the Urban Planning Council (UPC)’s goal is “to create an authentic Arab city” that “will be owned by the people of Abu Dhabi, it will become an inspiring image of its collective vision for a harmonious, diversified, culturally rich, stable and sustainable society.”

Leading global design/engineering/planning firm KEO International Consultants is making the master plans for the Capital District; and the suburbs of Khalifa City A, Khalifa City B and Mohammed Bin Zayed City (green on the map below).

I’m most excited for the variety of transit options — metro by 2016, tram, bike lanes, walking and water taxis! The National reports that a 5-year update is slated for 2012.