From 1960 to 2040: How Dubai Rulers' urban plans are making the city best place to live in the world

According to Mattar Al Tayer, big cities face strategic challenges that affect their urban landscape and limits their capability to achieve sustainable development

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Lamya Tawfik

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Photo: Shihab
Photo: Shihab

Published: Mon 13 Feb 2023, 9:18 PM

Last updated: Mon 13 Feb 2023, 9:42 PM

The term "quality of life" often used between decision-makers and leaders, is needed more than ever today. Speaking about urban planning at the World Government Summit 2023 on Monday, Mattar Al Tayer, Commissioner General for Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Well-Being Pillar, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that big cities today face strategic challenges that affect their urban landscape and limits their capability to achieve sustainable development.

He cited exponential growth of population, urbanisation, urban sprawl, rapid technology revolution, and global climate change as some of these challenges before adding, “We have to ask ourselves, how can urban planning influence citizens quality of life while ensuring sustainable future for the next generation?”

“Since the founder of Dubai, the late Sheikh Rashid launched the first urban plan in 1960 for the city, the population of the city increased 80 times fold and the urban area increased 170 times. This is a record in the growth of cities,” he said, adding that Dubai aims to make the city the best place to life in the world. “This is what the government is trying to achieve and puts in place a roadmap for development focused on the people to improve the global competitiveness of the emirate,” said Mattar.

He said that there are important elements to be considered in urban planning such as the planned used of land. “The balance between commercial, residential and economic and entertainment spaces contribute directly to quality of life and maximizes the economic return,” he said.

Another element is infrastructure and transportation to serve society in addition to adopting sustainable solutions to preserve resources for future generations and finally adopting flexible policies and developing facilities continuously to benefit from new technologies like self-driven cars. “Dubai aims to transform 25% of all trips to be self-driven by 2030 and 10 self-driven taxis by the end of the year,” he said.

He spoke about the Dubai Urban Plan 2040 launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai in 2021.

“A roadmap was endorsed to ensure sustainable development featuring a policy for sustainable housing for our citizens, developing comprehensive plans to preserve rural areas, and developing the urban planning law to regulate the relationship between developers, investors and government agencies. It also adopts a flexible model for the governance of urban planning that strikes a balance between sustainable development and optimal utilisation of lands and projects,” he said adding that a survey was conducted among various segments of society and got feedback from more than 12,000 respondents to gauge their needs and aspirations.

“Dubai 2040 aims to provide sustainable and flexible mobility options to ease the mobility of people. The plan envisages that 55% of Dubai's population to live within 800 meters or less from public transport stations. It also aims to enhance investment opportunities by increasing the area of economic activities to 168 square kilometres, widening the area of hotel and tourism activities to 134% to attract more tourists, increasing green areas and recreational spaces by 105%, and extending public beaches by as much as 400%,” he explained.

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