Abu Dhabi: World Future Energy Summit, Solar Power, E-Villa and Estimada, Al Reem Island, Qatar’s Space City, Petra Plan

Big event of the week was the World Future Energy Summit at ADNEC, I couldn’t attend due to school but United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized supporting renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases to slow down climate change (The National).

Capt. Jaber Al Shehhi on top of the MS Turanor PlanetSolar inspecting the solar panels. / Image via ADPC.

As part of the summit, the world’s largest solar-powered ship docked at the Marina (Abu Dhabi Ports Co.). Despite the UAE building a handful of nuclear power plants, solar energy was the big focus this week, as the carbon-neutral Masdar City has new high-power solar panels from TVP Solar (AME Info) and are partnering with Spain’s Sener to build $5 billion in solar power plants (Green Building Magazine: Middle East).

Back in the city proper, the Municipality and Urban Planning Council (UPC) are quickly modernizing the city’s building infrastructure. Abu Dhabi is slated to get a building code soon (The National), and the UPC is setting up the Estimada sustainability ratings for existing buildings (not a small task) and launching an e-villa configurator for villa owners and developers to design their plans online, showing how different aspects affect the sustainability rating (Khaleej Times). Meanwhile the city is making it easier for developers to submit plans online (Emirates News Agency).

Dubai's The Palm is still a far cry from the vision of its original master plan for 30 five-star hotels with 14,000 rooms. / Image via The National and Reuters.

Meanwhile, Reem Investments is going to make Al Reem Island a new South Korean hub, including a Korean Cultural Center (Reem Investments). Sorbonne-Abu Dhabi students participated in the recent International Renewable ENergy Association (IRENA) Assembly (Emirates News Agency), plus a new Abu Dhabi film club is launching on January 25th (Aflam).

Elsewhere in the emirate, Mubadala won $1 billion in Airbus contracts for a plant in Al Ain (The National), and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is looking to invest in India’s urban infrastructure (Zee News). In Dubai, more luxury hotels are slowly opening on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah (The National) and a billion-dollar Las Vegas-style development is slated to replace Dubai’s oldest hotel, The Metropolitan (The National).

Elsewhere in the region…

Design Workshop's new master plan for Petra, Jordan includes almost 95 percent conservation zones or open space, and watershed management. / Image via American Planning Association.

Qatar continues its building boom, with a $3 billion Space City, including a NASA-sponsored university (Hotelier Middle East), the $130 million Sidra Village by China’s Sinohydro (Zawya) and the Gulf’s largest labor camp holding 50,000 people. (Construction Week) Their soon-to-launch Green Building Council should improve sustainability. (Zawya)

In Saudi Arabia, its high-speed rail line continues to expand, signing an $8 billion contract with a Spanish rail group to connect Mecca and Medina. (WSJ) And urban design firm KEO is going to manage a mixed-use development in Jeddah (MEED).

In the Levant, there’s an upcoming conference on a greener Beirut (Beirut Green Project), and Design Workshop’s new master plan for Petra, Jordan won the APA’s Pierre l’Enfant International Planning Award (Jordan Times). Finally, who knew the oldest standing mosque in the United States is in Iowa and dates only to the 1930’s? (The National)

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Abu Dhabi: The Pointe Planned on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah, Great Dubai Wheel Canceled But The World’s Lebanon Island Opens

Despite warnings that Abu Dhabi’s housing market is going to dip soon, investment in Dubai seems to be slowly on the rise again.

Nakheel has announced that it’s starting construction on The Pointe, an $80 million new mixed-use development on the Palm Jumeirah islands. No timeline. (Construction Week Online)

Despite Dubai Properties Group canceling Dubailand’s Great Dubai Wheel (Hotelier Middle East), the World Island Beach Club just opened on the World’s “Lebanon island.” Though there’s literally no infrastructure, 70 percent of the islands have sold (The National and The Atlantic: Cities).

In positive sustainability news, Abu Dhabi property developer Aldar is partnering with Epic Green Solutions to reduce water use (Zawya), Bee’ah is introducing residential recycling in Sharjah (Khaleej Times) and Dubai is building a solar power plant
(The National).

Forthcoming recycling bins in Sharjah. / Photo via Khaleej Times.

Nationwide, the UAE is improving its customer service for government agencies, and last year established subsidized neighborhood food distribution centers and car transport for people with special needs (Gulf Today). Plus the UAE has the most branch campuses of any country in the world at 37, though new overseas campuses are trending to China and India (New York Times).

Elsewhere in the region…
Saudi Arabia is expanding its North-South Railway with a $600 million contract with Saudi firm Al Rashid. (Reuters) Atkins won a $100 billion contract to establish Doha, Qatar’s Central Planning Office to help plan billions in infrastructure projects (The National). BAM International is partnering with Jordanian firm MAG to build the new $65 million port in Aqaba, Jordan. (Port Technology)

The Qatari-funded “The Shard” supertall skyscraper in London is the last gasp of the heady “naughties” — big, bold and no look to the city’s past (Der Spiegel). New documentary “Zabaleen” profiles Cairo’s Coptic Christians who work informally to recycle 80 percent of the city’s waste (The Atlantic: Cities).

The Shard skyscraper looms over London. / Image via Der Spiegel.

Beyond the Middle East…
In the former USSR, Almaty, Kazakhstan has a new metro (The Atlantic: Cities) and “Russia by Rail” is NPR’s great travelogue of Trans-Siberian Railroad (NPR).

Incredible read on urban planning in Soweto, South Africa — is there any place in the world whose spatial divisions so completely reflect the racial segregation of the past 100 years? (Design Observer) Meanwhile, Cape Town is starting to figure out public space (Future Cape Town). Hopefully they can be helped by citizen cartographers, who are taking a greater stake in urban planning my mapping infrastructure (NYT).