Capital district plan celebrates identity

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ABU DHABI // Unveiling details of Abu Dhabi’s new capital district yesterday, the project’s chief planner said the ambitious development will help the nation define itself.

“This is the single most important project in the whole UAE,” Falah al Ahbabi, the general manager of the Urban Planning Council said.

“We felt that we needed to relate people to their federal identity. We wanted to gather all the federal governmental offices in one area to achieve that target.”

The full plan was revealed at the opening of the Cityscape Abu Dhabi exhibition, which in the wake of the global economic downturn, saw some developers indicate a change in focus from grandiose projects revealed at the exhibition in previous years.

Many developers indicated they were altering their projects and cutting prices to ensure developments remained viable.

The exhibition was officially opened by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who said that the UAE economy still enjoyed stability and resilience, despite the downturn.

Sheikh Mohammed said the Government was keen to provide support to the property sector, which is considered a key driver for economy, the state news agency, WAM, reported. “The ongoing interest that exists for real estate in Abu Dhabi represents a powerful endorsement of the Government’s long-term vision for the sustainable growth and development of the emirate.”

The 2030 plans for Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, which govern all developments in those two cities, would ensure development in the emirate was sustainable, he said.

The most significant of those developments is the Capital District, which will be built seven kilometres inland south of Abu Dhabi island, between Mohammed bin Zayed City and Abu Dhabi International Airport. It stretches over a triangular area of 45 square kilometres of land formerly identified as Khalifa City C, and will eventually house about 370,000 people.

At the heart of the area will be the Federal Precinct that will serve as the national seat of government for the UAE. A series of seven grand boulevards “representing the seven emirates” will connect the centre with surrounding districts.

“It will celebrate the federal identity of the whole UAE. That will differentiate it from other parts of the country,” Mr al Ahbabi said.

“In other parts of the world they have done it because it adds value to the nation and to the people.

The total development comprises six major precincts, including the Federal Precinct, City Centre Precinct – divided into four areas – Emirati neighbourhood, Sports Hub Precinct, South Spine Precinct and Palace Precinct.

The district will also serve as the second business district of the town with about 2.8 million square metres of office space. The existing Central business district in Abu Dhabi island, runs across from the Tourist Club area down the Corniche including Al Sowwah development.

“Their positioning is that of a financial district. The second central business district will have high-class offices and concentrate economic growth on the mainland,” Joanne Proft, the project manager for Capital District, said.

Three universities will relocate in the district: Zayed University, Khalifa Universities, and the Abu Dhabi University, and it will be the site of the 65,000-seat National Stadium as well as various sport venues.

“It is one of the most well connected sites,” Ms Proft said. “On the north is E20 on the West E22. The project will have a fully integrated transport system that ties it to the rest of the regional transport. There is a fast rail that runs through the city along the north line up to Abu Dhabi.”

It will include a high speed rail service, 131km of metro railway, regional rail connections and is close the capital’s airport.

Each residential neighbourhood will be served by community services including cultural centres and the majority of parking will be underground. There will also be two hospitals.

The developers hope to orientate the district’s buildings to ensure the maximum possible shade, ventilation and exposure to prevailing winds. There will be dedicated bike lanes and footpaths.

Falah al Ahbabi said in a previous interview that work on the district would start “aggressively” in the first or second quarter of 2010.

The first buildings to be constructed will be the government offices followed by Emirati housing and sports facilities.

The tender to choose the project manager in charge of the project will be launched next month.

Ms Proft said some work was already under way.

“One is the stadium, they started piling,” she said. “And the Zayed University started their site preparation, too. We are working with them to make sure they have infrastructure in place, utilities, power.”

The cost of the project has not been revealed.
April 20. 2009 8:48PM UAE / April 20. 2009, Nathalie Gillet,

The Rosewood Abu Dhabi display at Cityscape's Mubadala stand. Philip Cheung / The National
The Rosewood Abu Dhabi display at Cityscape's Mubadala stand. Philip Cheung / The National

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