New Dubai Metro stations: '20-minute city' to help residents save time, money

A study published last month revealed that Dubai motorists lost 33 hours sitting in traffic congestion in 2023

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Angel Tesorero

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Sun 7 Jul 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 13 Jul 2024, 6:53 PM

Expanding Dubai Metro in the next few years will definitely help residents save time and money, according to experts and urban planners. The goal, however, is not only to extend the transport network but to improve liveability in neighbourhoods, which the government describes as the ‘20-minute city’ plan.

Last week, the Executive Council of Dubai announced plans to expand Dubai Metro from the current 64 stations (stretching 84km) to 96 stations (140km) by 2030, with plans to have 140 stations (covering 228km) by 2040.


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The plan aims “to boost populations around stations, as well as to enhance the diversity of residential, commercial, office, and service spaces around the Metro."


“Expanding the metro system is a great start,” Dr Monica Menendez, associate dean of Engineering for Graduate Affairs at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), told Khaleej Times, explaining: “The idea of 20-minute cities is that residents should have access to most essential services and amenities within a 20-minute radius."

“To achieve this, we need a combination of transport policies aimed at expanding and improving multiple transport options, with urban planning aiming to foster denser and mixed-used neighbourhoods,” she added.

The NYUAD professor, who is also director at Research Centre for Interacting Urban Networks, highlighted: “This project must be complemented by the expansion of other types of public transportation (for instance, the bus system), as well as more active modes of transportation (such as expanding and improving the infrastructure for walking, biking, and other forms of micro-mobility) and the provision of more flexible concepts (such as shared vehicles and on-demand transportation) with the aid of new vehicle technologies.”

Solving traffic woes

The creation of 20-minute cities will solve the emirate's traffic jams, according to Emirati traffic safety researcher Dr Mostafa Al Dah.

A study published last month revealed that Dubai motorists lost 33 hours sitting in traffic congestion in 2023 compared to 22 hours in the previous year.

Al Dah, who is also the founder of MA Traffic Consulting, said the heavy congestion is due to many residents living far from their work area or schools, as well as other important locations and amenities. “They need to travel to great distances and it does not only contribute to road congestion but also translates to spending more money on petrol and having time wasted in traffic,” he noted.

Dr Mostafa Al Dah
Dr Mostafa Al Dah

The creation of 20-minute cities and improvements in public transport are the way to the future, underscored Al Dah, adding: “By connecting people to their work and basic services and amenities, they will not be compelled to use their cars. It will not only cut down on the need to travel but will also reduce carbon emissions.”

From the business point of view, Andrew Elliott, director Commercial Agency at Dubai-based Chestertons, noted: “New transport links also encourage more investment by developers and can stimulate further urban growth and redevelopment.”

“The focus on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions will make properties near metro stations more attractive to environment-conscious investors and residents,” he added.

Andrew Elliott
Andrew Elliott

Achievable goals

“These changes don’t happen overnight,” noted Prof. Menendez. “But with the proper vision and political will, it can be achieved. I trust the UAE is the sort of place where we can make some of these concepts a reality,” she added.

Dubai can have multiple 20-minute neighbourhoods or cities. Prof. Menendez said: “Even if we cannot travel across the whole city in such a short period of time, we can still have access to most essential services and amenities within our neighbourhood.”

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