Global opportunities

Why the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is defining the future

Zayed National MuseumInnovators from Europe and the UK are being invited to the UAE to help bring its ambitious urban development plans to life. We are co-organising the Future Cities trade delegation, which will take place from 18 to 20 September, with our affiliate, the British Business Group Dubai and Northern Emirates. For full details, see the delegate Briefing Pack

The UAE is a world leader in futuristic urban development and there’s more to come. Specialists from Europe and the UK are needed to help bring planned developments, such as those listed below, to life.

The Palm, DubaiHome to the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, and iconic developments such as The Palm, the UAE is also home to one of the most ambitious ‘smart city’ projects to be found anywhere on earth. With a pledge to make 25% of all journeys in UAE driverless by 2030, it is re-imagining urban mobility and the built environment.

Dubai’s sustainable developments, featuring ‘intelligent buildings’ have been described as real-time laboratories. Since 2010, no fewer than 1,433 green building projects have been completed across Dubai, while the municipality has registered over 120 million square feet of relat estate since the applciation of the green building code became compulsory for all new buildings in March 2014. New buildings in Dubai will now be rated based on the implementation of green building standards and buildings that do not meet requirements to achieve the minimum bronze rating will not be given permits.

In 2008, work on Masdar City in Abu Dhabi began with the aim of creating the world's most sustainable eco-city. It is successfully pioneering a 'greenprint' for how cities can accommodate rapid urbanisation and dramatically reduce energy and water.

When it is completed in 2021, Dubai Design District, or d3, will be the centre of Dubai's creative community – a hipster hub aimed at fostering the growth of the local dsign industry. An urban enclave for local artists, architects, designers and musicians, it will engage with the global design community. Meanwhile, smart technology, robotics and wearable tech are the focus of a new digital innovation centre in Dubai Internet City.

Following Dubai's Expo 2020 win, the emirate announced its Smart City project with the aim of being one of the world's most connected and sustainable cities. The project will use The Internet of Things to develop smart infrastructure across life, society, mobility, the environment and the economy.

Dubai has already developed a new take on the ‘smart city’ with the ‘happiness meter’ to measure how happy citizens and visitors are with various aspects of the city interactively.

Major forthcoming developments include:  

The Tower – At Dubai Creek Harbour, a pin-like structure topping the Burj Khalifa in height and due to be built in time for Expo 2020.

Dubai Steps –   A stairway ascending 100 metres into the clouds, aimed aimed at promoting culture and sports, mainly through its architectural design. This is the first project of its kind anywhere in the world.

Aladdin City – In Dubai Creek, it will comprise three adjoining towers shaped like giant genie lamps.

Museum of the Future – The Museum of the Future will be an incubator for ideas, a driver for innovation, and a destination for inventors and entrepreneurs from around the world.

Dubai Water Canal Project – The project is set to change the existing Business Bay area. The canal itself will measure six meters deep, while scaffold bridges will be built eight metres high to allow yachts and marine craft to pass underneath.

Dubai Canal before and after completion

Jewel of the Creek – This $816 million project will consist of a sizeable waterfront complex, featuring 19-story apartment buildings, three office towers, two luxury hotels, a recreation centre and a convention centre with a ballroom, as well as a marina and a huge number of retail spaces for shops and eateries.

Al Habtoor City – Located on a 10 million square foot plot on Sheik Zayed Road, this amazing development will contain dining venues, a French-inspired garden, a famous Las Vegas style water theatre and the world's first Bentley cafe.

Deira Islands – A 15.3 square kilometre waterfront city paves the way for hundreds of new hotels, serviced apartments, mixed-use buildings and marinas.

MBR City District One – Covering 1,110 acres, MBR City –District One includes a 7 kilometre stretch of Crystal Lagoons, the world’s largest artificial beach and a 14 kilometre boardwalk. Spread over 440 hectares, with more than 60 percent of the total area being allocated to green and open spaces.  The low-density  project  boasts  a  7 kilometre-long  ‘Crystal  Lagoon’  for swimming, kayaking and other activities.

Miral and skyTran – Miral and the NASA Space Act Company are working together to develop an innovative personal rapid transport system, the first of its kind in the Middle East, on Yas Island Abu Dhabi. The high-speed, low-cost, elevated system built at Ames Research Centre, will have cars zipping above the traffic in an energy efficient solution.

Zayed National Museum – Inspired by the dynamics of flight and the feathers of a falcon, this new museum (pictured at the top of this page) will make a spectacular addition to the Saadiyat Island skyline. Each steel feather, will contain a gallery space where visitors can explore history and culture.

To find out more about the Future Cities Trade Delegation in September, contact

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