SDG 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES

The Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MOID) has contributed to the urban development of the

UAE through federal infrastructure projects such as government houses, buildings, in addition to developing a strong road network linking all seven emirates to facilitate the commute of UAE citizens and residents. In line with Vision 2021 and the National Agenda, MOID strives to achieve an excellent sustainable environment and integrated infrastructure to achieve a high quality of life to all residents.

Policies and Initiatives

Launch of the ‘Establishment of PPP National Legal Framework Policy’ (2018) to develop a public private partnership policy to finance and implement infrastructure projects in order to enhance the competitiveness of the UAE, meet the needs and future aspirations of infrastructure and housing, and to stimulate the economy and the private sector

Launch of the UAE’s project of the Consensual Holistic Plan (2017) to develop a long-term integrated plan and roadmap for the UAE which incorporates environmental, urban, economic and social pillars

Launch of the ‘National Housing Strategy Initiative’ in 2017. The project aims to develop a regulatory framework for the housing process and develop a long-term plan to ensure the provision of adequate housing in a fair and transparent manner.


Challenges

The UAE is among the countries with an increasing rate of car-owners that stands to rise by 3.9% (average increase over 10 years), almost twice as high as the world average. This high rate makes it increasingly imperative to develop an integrated future vision for road system and smart transportation

Provision of financing needed to support the ambitious visions of developing the urban infrastructure of the UAE

Due to the federal nature of the UAE, diverse standards, laws and policies need to be taken into consideration when planning in different emirates.


The Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Creativity (CEIC) based at Canadian University Dubai has joined the ranks of the International Observatory on Smart City Learning, connecting the UAE with leading European research institutions in the field of smart technology.

The International Observatory, hosted by the University of Rome Tor Vergata, brings together academics and research groups from several top European institutions - including Stockholm University, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Aalborg University, and Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg – to to promote transnational collaboration and debate on the challenges and opportunities of smart city learning.

Founded in 2013 as a subsidiary of Dubai Education LLC, the Centre of Excellence set out to support the UAE's national strategic plan for 2021, including the goal of a sustainable and diversified economy through green development.

Under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the City has initiated a program of transformational projects that aims to build one of the world's most connected and sustainable smart cities by the inception Expo 2020.

With the Expo theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future', knowledge and education will have an important role to play in the prelude to 2020, and by promoting the advancement of learning practices through smart solutions, CEIC is aiming to make its own contribution to the strategic vision of the event.

Speaking about the new partnership, Mr. Buti Saeed Al Ghandi, Chairman of Dubai Education LLC, said, "The Centre of Excellence was established to bring forward knowledge and innovations that have the potential to make a significant contribution to UAE society. Smart technologies are a key driver in the evolution of educational practices, and by joining international leaders in the field we can harness our expertise to develop solutions that could transform the way we teach and learn."

Dr. Karim Chelli, CEO of Dubai Education LLC, commented, "This is a significant milestone for the Centre at an important time, as the UAE accelerates the pace of its development and implementation of smart solutions across both Government and lifestyle services."

Since its establishment, the Centre has created a platform for academic and industry collaboration on sustainable development through innovation and creativity, and attracted leading authorities in the field to speak at its international conferences and events.

Having established itself as an important think tank for smart city development in the UAE, the Centre will now represent the region on an international stage through the Observatory.

Dr. Kiran Tangri, Director of CEIC said, "Membership of the International Observatory will allow us to exchange best practices with global experts on smart city learning and help to showcase Dubai on the world stage as an ambitious, innovative and technology-driven society."

Prof. Carlo Giovannella, Coordinator of the International Observatory commented, "We welcome the membership of the Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Creativity, Dubai Education LLC, as a strategically important organization in the field, demonstrated through their leading role in last year's 'Dubai 2020: Smart City Learning' workshop.

"We look forward to a very fruitful collaboration that will lead to the development of exciting learning ecosystems in the region and, in turn, support the process towards the achievement of sustainable and people-centred smart cities."


Dr. Hoshiar Nooraddin, a professor in the School of Architecture and Interior Design at Canadian University Dubai, has addressed a gathering of municipal government officials from across the GCC to reveal the key ingredients for a livable Smart City.

An architect by trade, Dr. Nooraddin developed expertise in the Smart Cities initiative through research and professional practice during his time in Norway. As a specialist in the region, he was called upon to deliver the keynote address at the 4th annual GCC Municipalities and Smart Cities Conference held at the Burj Al Arab, Dubai.

The two-day symposium was attended by leaders and senior decision makers from several GCC government municipalities, and examined topics such as modern management, IT and e-Government, customer care services, education, and knowledge management.Dr. Nooraddin was at the head of the conference agenda, which saw an elite group of experts from the public and private sectors share their insights into international best practices in the field.

The Smart Cities initiative has become a priority for municipalities across the region in recent years. Dubai, under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has developed a raft of strategic projects to transform the Emirate into one of the world's most connected and sustainable Smart Cities for the inception Expo 2020.

Introducing the notion of 'livable' Smart Cities, Dr. Nooraddin said, "The challenge for any city in this process is to work in parallel with innovations in technology to consider the social and human aspects of development.

"Smart Cities need to take account of lifestyle and environmental considerations to achieve sustainable growth. A livable Smart City is one that embeds quality of life in its evolution."

Dr. Nooraddin shared lessons from the Norwegian city of Oslo, which was recognized by the European Union as an exemplar in the 2013 Smartest City Rankings. He revealed the eight strategic objectives implemented by the city to provide a good quality of life while delivering its Smart City objectives.

Among the key strategies, Dr. Nooraddin highlighted the importance of integrating the national culture of a country into the design of buildings and urban space, the need to focus on climate-friendly initiatives, and to develop a city oriented towards the use of public transportation.

He also stressed the importance of 'smart continuous community participation', saying, "Smart Cities must integrate knowledge of the initiative into education, support continuous media involvement, and promote active community participation in all Smart City related projects."

He concluded that there is no ideal, prescribed model for a Smart City. "Each city needs to establish its own agenda and create sustainable strategies to ensure it is responsive to future changes" he said.

HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attends 'Landscaping of UAE Cities' event along with experts in fields of environment and architecture

The challenges of creating a green landscape and ensuring the UAE's cities are environmentally sustainable were debated by key decision makers in the worlds of environment and architecture at the Canadian University Dubai.

With the region's construction industry on the rise, it is becoming increasingly important to find ways to take on these challenges.

The event was organised under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who attended and participated in the event. The Canadian University Dubai and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture Dubai were co-hosts. Speaking at the opening, Dr Karim Cheli, President of the Canadian University Dubai, said: "It is an honour to have His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum participate in this.

"A sustainable and green landscape is an important component in every city's architecture and urbanization, mainly because of the contribution to a healthy living environment. This event allowed us to discuss the issues involved, and encourage further research and action."

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of ICBA stressed: "'The water scarcity is a core development issue in UAE. Right now, 11% of the total water use in the country is dedicated to landscaping and this rate is on the rise, as the urban population is growing.

Managing landscapes especially in arid and hyper-arid environments such as UAE is a real challenge, and requires innovative approaches, such as using the right plants which are drought, heat and salt tolerant; using the right irrigation technologies, and safe use of treated waste water. Within this context, native plants have great role to play in UAE cities landscaping" Various researchers from the Canadian University Dubai and the ICBA presented papers and spoke on their areas of expertise. Architecture students from the Canadian University Dubai also had the opportunity to present their work on this issue. His Highness Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum also presented a series of awards to students.

Dr. Hoshiar Nooraddin, professor of architecture at Canadian University Dubai (CUD), has revealed that the continual development and dissemination of knowledge is vital to future-proofing livable smart city models.

Speaking at the 5th annual GCC Municipalities and Smart Cities Conference, Dr. Nooraddin talked about the acceleration of learning, technology and infrastructure, and the need for cities to be responsive to these advances in order to maintain optimum livability.

Dr. Nooraddin was among a line-up of speakers at the event that brought together leaders and senior decision makers from government municipalities across the GCC. Among the speakers was His Excellency Mr. Brad Woodside, Mayor of the city of Fredericton, Canada, who spoke about the role of municipalities and the models of governance the can promote smart city initiatives.

The smart cities initiative has become a priority for municipalities across the region in recent years. Under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the City has developed a raft of strategic projects to transform the Emirate into one of the world’s most connected and sustainable smart cities.

Dr. Nooraddin also stressed that smart cities should continually measure quality and strengthen their networks to ensure that emerging knowledge is shared across all stakeholders, including businesses, educators, decision-makers and citizens.

Drawing upon the example of Brasilia, a city constructed in the 1950s in Brazil, Dr. Nooraddin demonstrated the vital importance of residents’ involvement in creating a strategic plan for new developments.

He said, “Brasilia was conceived as an ideal city, promising modern architecture and futuristic urban design. However, it was built upon unsustainable principles, without considering the human and community needs. This top-down approach to design meant that it was not responsive to change and ultimately emerged as a visually iconic city, surrounded by run-down settlements.”

Dr. Nooraddin concluded with a number of recommendations for cities engaged in strategic planning for smart city development, including embedding local knowledge, increasing the role of municipalities in the process, raising awareness among citizens and enhancing cooperation among networks across the city.

Dr. Yassen Alfoteih, Assistant Professor and Chair of the School of Public Health & Health Sciences at Canadian University Dubai (CUD), has revealed the impact of urbanization on human health and the ecosystem, in a recent televised interview on United States-based, Arabic language current affairs channel, Alhurra.

Set in the context of a growth in urban living, Dr. Alfoteih discussed the health challenges associated with the environment, disease transmission and lifestyle in towns and cities. He said, “New data shows that more than 50% of the world’s population lives in an urban area. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in towns and cities. In Arabic countries around 56% are doing the same so far.

“These numbers are critical, as the world is rapidly urbanizing, with significant changes in our living standards, lifestyles, social behavior and health, which could cause both short and long-term effects on those who are living in these cities.”

He continued, “While urban living offers many opportunities, including potential access to better health care, today’s urban environments can concentrate health risks and introduce new hazards. Health challenges particularly evident in cities relating to water and the environment are scientifically associated with disease outbreaks.”

In conclusion, Dr. Alfoteih said, “City living and its increased pressures of mass marketing, availability of unhealthy food choices, and accessibility to automation and transport have all had an effect on lifestyle, which directly affects health. We need to focus on sustainable development taking into account public health as a key factor, while we plan for modern cities in the region.”

View the full discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuDOAJAs6gI


Mr. Luca Donner, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Canadian University Dubai (CUD), has revealed some of the solutions to sustainable construction in the desert, in a recent research paper that explores the challenges of creating a building or settlement in an arid climate.

Mr. Donner presented his paper, entitled “Breathing House, Qanat Villa and Heartshaped Micro-City Masterplan, case studies in Saudi Arabia”, at the Manipal International Symposium on Design, held recently in Dubai.

With research interests in sustainable and affordable housing, Mr. Donner has focused his latest study on how traditional and modern techniques can be combined to develop a new architectural philosophy.

The paper examines three case-studies in Saudi Arabia – a ‘breathing’ house, designed for a typical middle-low income Saudi family; a luxury ‘qanat’ villa, constructed for a private client; and a low-rise, high density settlement, designed to be a self-sufficient ‘micro-city’.

Mr. Donner explained, “A building is considered sustainable according to how well it integrates with the natural elements of the surrounding landscape and with the habits of its residents. The breathing house, for example, promotes natural ventilation, for both energy conservation and the wellbeing of its inhabitants.”

The study looked closely at how ancient architectural techniques, such as the wind tower and the qanat structure – an old oriental subterranean canalization system for the supply of water – can be integrated into modern architecture to promote sustainability.

Mr. Donner continued, “The three examples of design in the arid Middle-Eastern climate demonstrate how natural resources like wind and water, often hard to find and preserve, can be used carefully and in an alternative, optimized way.”

Mr. Donner was among a program of Architecture professionals and academics who presented at the two-day symposium, which looked to the future of the industry, addressing themes such as socially responsible design and technological milestones.

Considering the future of architecture in desert communities, Mr. Donner concluded, “Architects must take inspiration from local culture and building traditions, linking and balancing ancient Islamic architecture to modern technologies and techniques, in the growth and conscious development of new buildings and settlements.”

Dubai Municipality’s Environmental Centre: Recognizing the commitment of UAE towards promoting and generating Sustainable Development and in continuation of the ongoing partnership between Canadian University Dubai and Dubai Municipality’s Environmental Centre for Arab Towns (ECAT) who last year hosted the first-ever forum ‘Executive Program on Sustainability; the Canadian University Dubai and ECAT took another step forward this week by successfully delivering a second forum entitled “Executive Action Forum on Sustainable Development: Generating Economic Development through Integrated Waste and Resource Management in the Middle East.”

The Forum was led by Dr Karlson ‘Charlie’ Hargroves; a world-renowned sustainability transitions consultant, researcher and author and was assisted by Mr. Daniel Conley, Course Tutor.

Aimed at professionals, entrepreneurs, and public officials working in the resources or waste sector needing to gain an up to date understanding of the latest approaches to generate economic development opportunities through integrated waste and resource management in the Middle East, based on world’s best practice, the Forum was designed to provide participants with a clear understanding of the opportunities available to capitalize on proven and emerging waste and resource management practices and to generate economic development opportunities in line with the Dubai Municipality mandatory requirement to reuse or recycle a minimum of 50 percent of C&D waste for new developments.

Topics in the courses included the economics of decoupling waste from economic growth, an update on progress in reuse, recycling, recovery and re-design and the exploration of the innovative approaches that create new products and markets in the sustainability arena.

While globally the perception of the Middle East may be that it is lagging behind in terms of advancing sustainability, the story on the ground is entirely different with initiatives such as Dubai Sustainable City and Desert Rose clearly demonstrating Dubai’s determination to become one of the world’s leading sustainable cities. Equally, Dubai has encouraged new construction projects to identify a series of sustainable initiatives and targets which will help guide incorporate sustainability into design and building.

The Forum was delivered in an executive education format with a focus on providing capacity building using a range of methods, including TEDx-like lectures, individual discovery and small group exploration, as well as including oral presentations within small group activities.

Representatives from Sewage Network and Treatment Departments, Dubai Municipality, Sewerage & Irrigation Network Department, Dubai Municipality, Dibba Municipality, SEPCO Environment and the Riyadh Development Authority from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attended the forum.

At the end of the Forum Certificates were presented to all delegates by Mr. Hussain Abdulla Fardan, Director of Environmental Center for Arab Towns (ECAT).