Saudi Arabia builds Masdar City – world’s first Zero Carbon City

    03 Jun 2021

    The United Arab Emirates recent years has announced a commitment to environmental sustainability. The Independent writes about the UAE Green Turn. Let’s check Rahma Khan article out.

    The United Arab Emirates – the country with the world’s tallest building and fast-growing metropolitan areas – was previously notorious for being one of the world’s top sources of carbon emissions. But this Middle Eastern coin also has another side: by relying heavily on the tourism sector, which is very important to the country’s economy, the UAE government has created a new way to attract people. It built the world’s first zero-carbon city.

    The decision to build an environmentally friendly place called the City of the Future is either a modest government effort to contribute to a greener planet, or just a brilliant experiment that could help a country get rid of its label as the world’s top pollutant.

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    Located just 10 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport and 40 minutes from Dubai, the City of the Future is also known as Masdar City. It is based on a philosophy of economic, social and environmental sustainability. The vision is to promote greener lifestyles by applying real solutions to energy and water conservation, as well as developing zero-carbon transport and reducing waste.

    This ambitious project, initiated by the UAE government in partnership with its subsidiary Mubadala Development Company, was launched in 2006. It was originally planned that it will be fully ready by 2016. But it did not come out due to a series of planning failures and due to global economic transformations. Now there’s a new plan to complete construction by 2030. Although the city is not yet fully completed, a significant part of it, including residential complexes, offices, a conference center and a wind tower, is already open for business.

    A full-day tour of Masdar City allows tourists to see its 500 eco-friendly residential buildings that use all renewable energy sources. Electricity is generated by urban solar panels with a capacity of 10 megawatts (MW). It is the largest networked facility of this type in the Middle East, covering an area of ​​22 hectares. Visitors will also learn about the effective water control system installed at all Masdar City sites: each building is equipped with hoods that take moisture from the air and convert it into water for the entire city. Water-efficient sinks in all homes also regulate the flow of water to prevent water loss.

    The city has done everything possible for sustainable mobility: cars are prohibited, with the exception of electric vehicles. Instead, Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) stations are used for transportation in Masdar.

    Visitors should park their cars at the entrance to the city and use a sustainable transportation system to travel around the city. PRT stations have science fiction-worthy mini-cabs on demand: these automated, single-cab electric vehicles act like a driverless taxi. They have touchscreens for ride control, and they navigate through dedicated PRT tunnels built below street level. Electric buggies and bicycles are also allowed, plus the city’s infrastructure is designed to encourage walking. Well-planned and wide sidewalks are everywhere. This is a rarity in the Gulf countries.

    One of the most prominent examples of sustainability in Masdar City is the campus of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. The whole complex is built on the principles of renewable energy. The most iconic building on the campus is the oval-shaped Knowledge Center building, designed to capitalize on the collection of photovoltaic energy. Meanwhile, sloped rooftop photovoltaic panels help prevent the building from overheating in direct sunlight.

    Elsewhere in the city there is a Wind Tower. Its authors clearly drew inspiration from the traditional free cooling mechanisms used in Middle Eastern architecture. Tall cylinders draw air from the inside from above to the central part, where it cools down and is back on the street. Visitors can walk underneath giant cylinders to experience how much the air cools.

    Currently, tourists can only explore the city on a Sunday through Thursday day trip, as there are no hotels there yet.

    But there are plenty of eateries and cafes to make your day of green walks even more enjoyable.

    After the pandemic, the development of Masdar City faced several obstacles. The UAE government is still trying to convince the Emiratis to move there, promising a lifetime delivery of organic fruits and vegetables to anyone who buys real estate in the city. But the likelihood that Masdar City will ever become fully populated is still in question.

    However, this City of the Future may become the main tourist magnet of the country, as responsible travelers increasingly prioritize the ecological characteristics of the holiday, rather than the cheap pleasures.

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