Dubai the most sustainable city in the Middle East, although no GCC city finishes in top half.
Dubai - Both cities also deliver strong performances from an economic perspective
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been ranked as the two most sustainable cities in the Middle East region, according to a study by Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets.
Dubai was ranked first out of the eight Middle East cities covered in the Sustainable Cities Index report and 52nd overall globally.
However, in the category of the world's wealthiest and most economically sustainable cities, Dubai was ranked fourth with Abu Dhabi not far behind in 13th place. The index measured factors including tourism, infrastructure, GDP and business performance.
The 2016 Sustainable Cities Index was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) and explores three core pillars of sustainability - social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit) to develop an indicative ranking of 100 of the world's leading cities.
The overall index is informed through an analysis of 32 different indicators and is also broken down into three sub-indices across each pillar.
According to the report, Dubai scored exceptionally well on the profit indicators finishing in fourth place globally, well ahead of other major business hubs like New York, Paris and Tokyo.
Dubai also performed well from a social perspective although fared less well on the environmental side, finishing 7th in the region and 96th globally.
"The picture in Abu Dhabi was equally positive with the city finishing second overall in the region and 58th globally. It scores very well on economic sustainability too but faces similar challenges around its environmental performance," said the report.
"It's no surprise to see Dubai and Abu Dhabi perform so well as both cities have well-planned strategies around how they want to develop. The 2021 Dubai Plan has a clear goal to become the most business-friendly city in the world and this is being supported through continued investment in the city's infrastructure," said Ben Khan, Client Development Director, Arcadis Middle East.
"Similarly, in Abu Dhabi, we have the Complete Sustainable Communities initiative that was set up by the Urban Planning Council, which is focused on creating a better-connected, safer and greener city that provides a better quality of life," said Khan.
"Energy consumption and carbon emissions do remain high in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, largely due to the climate, volume of development, and the traditional reliance on fossil fuels. This is an area that both cities are actively looking to address though and it forms a key part of the UAE's Vision 2021. The focus on improving the energy efficiency of buildings through rating systems like Estidama and Al Safat will help, as will planned investment in upgrading the water and transport networks in both cities," added Khan.
"Our index shows that all cities around the world face their own urban challenges and none of them can yet claim to have earned the title of being a completely sustainable city. Understanding the interplay between the physical, social and economic systems can help a city to achieve a more effective balance and a stronger sustainability performance," said John Batten, Global Cities Director at Arcadis.