Abu Dhabi’s 20-year urban plan gives priority to housing


Source:  www.timesofoman.com

Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates and home to 7 per cent of the world’s oil supply, unveiled a 20-year urban development plan that it says is flexible enough to respond to global economic changes.

Abu DhabiThe project for the downtown area, part of an investment plan called Vision 2030, will focus on upgrading infrastructure to accommodate population growth and adding developments such as housing for as many as 50,000 people, shopping malls, roads and a public transportation system, officials with the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council told reporters in the capital yesterday.

“We’re planning for the coming 20 years so our plans are always flexible, subject to changes based on the variables or the changes that are happening around us,” said the chief engineer of the project, Amr Hamade. He wouldn’t disclose the cost, saying he expects it to change over the course of the work.

Property market
Designers highlighted a ‘walk-ability and live-ability’ theme, which includes new techniques to protect residents from sun and temperatures that soar above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Abu Dhabi spent $20 billion in 2009 to bail out the neighboring emirate of Dubai, which struggled to repay debts.

Abu Dhabi’s government spending exceeded revenue by Dh84.9 billion ($23.1 billion) in 2010, down from Dh126.5 billion in 2009, according to a preliminary bond prospectus for Waha Aerospace, whose parent, Waha Capital, is majority-owned by the government.

While the emirate, which is home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, is sticking to its plan to invest $500 billion in industry and tourism by 2030, its property market is suffering along with Dubai’s, with local banks lending less and companies reassessing business plans.

‘Junk’ rating
Abu Dhabi property prices have slid 55 per cent since the market’s peak in mid-2008, according to Dubai-based Rasmala Investment Bank. Prices may decline another 25 per cent to 30 per cent, a Rasmala analyst, Saud Masud, wrote in March this year.

The government in March 2010 bought assets on Yas Island, home to the emirate’s Formula One racetrack, from Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest real-estate developer, for Dh9.14 billion.
Aldar that month became the first company in the emirate to get a ‘junk’ rating from Moody’s Investors Service.

Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 targets 7 per cent annual growth through 2015 and 6 per cent thereafter.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said in April this year that the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s economy would grow 3.5 per cent this year.