Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In a marked contrast to the ecologically reckless and headstrong behavior that continues to characterize development in the United Arab Emirates – especially Dubai – the state of Abu Dhabi is building an experimental city based on environmental sustainability. It is called Masdar City, a zero-emissions urban vision planned to house 50,000 residents and 1,500 businesses, at a cost of $22 billion (€15 billion). An ambitious attempt by the UAE to diversify an economy largely dependent on fossil fuels, this planned city project is largely being funded by the state of Abu Dhabi and has a predicted completion time of late 2010 for its first phase. The project boasts that Masdar will be powered ‘100% renewable energy’, save one million tons of carbon annually, recycle 80% of its water and have zero waste or zero emissions.

The sun, the wind and recycled waste products will provide Masdar’s power, while fresh water will come from a massive solar-powered desalinization plant, according to this BBC article. One of the coolest aspects about this futuristic city in the desert is its proposed transportation system: driverless, private electric podcars designed to run on tracks throughout the city.

But before we all fall in love with Masdar and the UAE, keep in mind that this is an experiment, albeit an ambitious one. As the Economist points out, The UAE is a huge per capita greenhouse gas emitter, an economy dominated by fossil fuels – of which it is not about to give up – and Masda may very well fall short of realizing some of its lofty ambitions. Nonetheless, the desire, initiative and drive for a project such as this; not only a place to develop Green technologies and ideas for sustainability, but actually put them into practice, is indeed an exciting prospect and an enterprising use of funds and resources, which will not be around forever.

Masdar promotional video

Additional resources:
Article on Masdar from Technology Review
Article on eco-cities from