Masdar City: Things We Can Learn From Abu Dhabi

by Maskil on February 1, 2009

Commentators often (used to?) reflect on what lessons the surrounding Arab/Muslim nations could learn from their tiny neighbour, Israel. The reverse hasn’t often been true; there’s relatively little that others in the region are doing that Israel would do well to emulate.

In this regard, however, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what Abu Dhabi is up to. The capital and second most populous “city-state” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi impresses again with the planned construction of the world’s greenest city – Masdar City. According to this item on the WWF Website:

Masdar City – which will be zero-carbon, zero-waste and car-free – plans to exceed the requirements of the 10 sustainability principles of the One Planet Living programme, a global initiative launched by WWF and environmental consultancy BioRegional.

Masdar City will be an entirely new city, built from the ground up on green principles.

For a variety of reasons, the era of new towns and villages in Israel is probably pretty much over, so there’s not much to learn in that regard. (The luxury Eden Hills development might be considered the exception, but that was widely criticised by Israel’s green movement as an exercise in greenwashing, and will probably not easily be repeated. The developing northern Israeli community of Nurit may provide a better model, but is also on the dormitory suburb end of the settlement scale.)

I believe, however, that it is both possible and necessary to “retrofit” as many as possible of these green technologies, principles and processes to existing communities in Israel. The Israeli experience in this regard will potentially be even more useful to the rest of the world, now slowly realising the necessity of resource independence and security, and “closed system” communities that consume less resources and produce less waste.

This item on NPR should prove helpful in gaining a quick understanding of what the Masdar City project is about.

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