Progress made on Zayed City development in Abu Dhabi

Work is pressing ahead at the long-awaited Zayed City, a 49 square kilometres development originally intended to become Abu Dhabi’s second capital.

Speaking at Cityscape Abu Dhabi this week, Abdulla Al Sahi, executive director for planning and infrastructure at the Urban Planning Council (UPC), said that the Abu Dhabi Government has approved about Dh3.5 billion for the construction of infrastructure for an Emirati housing development which will eventually comprise 3,000 villas and for further infrastructure works at a medium-density neighbourhood in the south- west of the project.

The UPC said that infrastructure work on the project’s first neighbourhood of land plots for villas was now 20 per cent complete and was due to be finished in 2019.

It added that work on the 3.8 million square metres South Spine neighbourhood, due to comprise 4.6 million sq metres of housing, 198,000 sq metres of offices and 273,000 sq metres of shops, had also been approved and would be completed in 2019.

Zayed City, which was originally known as Capital District and later New Khalifa City and is located in a triangle between Khalifa City A, Khalifa City B and Mohammed bin Zayed City, will eventually house 300,000 people and 325,000 workers.

Mr Al Sahi said that parcels of land in the master plan have been granted to various entities including developers and government bodies as well as individual Emiratis.

Local property brokers say that the different ownerships of the land has made the project relatively complex, with influential landowners lobbying for work to start despite demand for most property types in Abu Dhabi currently being soft.

According to the UPC, plans for the project include 15.2 million sq metres of residential, 890,000 sq metres of offices, 802,000 sq metres of retail, 2.7 million sq metres of government buildings, 203,000 sq metres of mosques and 2.1 million sq metres of schools.

However, Mr Al Sahi said these figures could change over time as the market evolved.

“We’re talking about a 20 years project,” he said.

In October the Abu Dhabi Executive Council approved nearly Dh6bn worth of development projects in Abu Dhabi emirate including a Dh1bn construction package for Zayed City.

Plans for its Grand District were originally drawn up between February 2008 and March 2009 and include a central Federal Precinct to serve as the UAE’s national seat of government, and a central space hosting seven Grand Boulevards that represent the seven emirates.

In November 2013 the Abu Dhabi government services company Musanada said it was close to ordering work to begin on a first phase of Emirati housing, comprising 2,723 villa plots, which it said would be completed in about two years.

A second phase would be completed in about 27 months, while a third phase would also take about two years to complete, it said at the time.

Mr Al Sahi said the time taken to complete Zayed City was not as important as the fact that there is a commitment to see the project through.

“This is a huge area. It’s half the size of Abu Dhabi island. Construction could take years and years,” Mr Al Sahi said.

“It will be a new area to support the existing area that is Abu Dhabi island. This is our vision and this is what our leadership gave us in 2008 and still we are working towards this.”

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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