Saturday, 22 February 2014

Masdar City: The Answer To Sustainable Economic Growth?

By Shivani Maru

Masdar City: the future of sustainable living. Initiated back in 2006, Masdar City (located in Abu Dhabi) is a city that will only run on renewable resources. Although some may argue that this initiative will be ineffective as it is surrounded by ‘some of the world’s most unsustainable developments,’ Masdar City is helping to correct this. Masdar City is another way of raising awareness to residents of the UAE and the world about green technology.

Sustainability is very important for the economy, especially for the future. What’s the use of producing goods from natural resources that will eventually run out? Especially, when natural resources are being consumed faster than they are being produced. They are going to run out, and also considering that Abu Dhabi is a net exporter of oil, this raises questions as to the sustainability of the country. Often, governments use higher taxes on petrol as a way of becoming more sustainable. However, the truth is is that we need these resources regardless. Therefore, it’s better to look at renewable resources as an alternative.

But what makes Masdar City sustainable? Well, for one, the city only uses clean technology. A main feature of a city is transport. In Masdar City, people move around the city using electric cars. Also, there will be a connection between the main Abu Dhabi areas and Masdar City through the use of their light rail. Abu Dhabi is making great use of the sun as well. It’s a huge advantage, especially considering that they are building the world’s largest solar power plant. The city is also making use of other renewable energy resources such as wind power.

Masdar City already has provided many advantages. One key factor is that it has changed the attitudes of society. Back in 2006, Masdar City was just one initiative, however now many other countries are aiming to create new technologies. It’s not only countries though; firms and consumers are being influenced as well. For example, in Dubai, the Change Initiative recently opened. The company aims to provide consumers with methods of being sustainable in all sorts of ways. This is especially useful in a country where the carbon footprint is so high. Furthermore, a university was opened in Masdar City which looks at creating new green technologies. This will prove to be vital for the future, or even now, when looking to reserve natural resources. Masdar City has also inspired the idea of launching a Food City, a city which is self sufficient in providing itself food.

In addition to these factors, Masdar City is a hub for green companies. I recently watched a video as to what made Masdar City economically beneficial to firms. For one, it provides these firms with some great market opportunities, particularly for those who wish to target the Middle East and Asia. These companies will be able to work together and test their products. This will definitely help to increase innovation. I mean, ‘two brains are better than one.’ Also, Masdar City and Abu Dhabi both have great infrastructure and Masdar City is internationally recognised.

Nevertheless, Masdar City is still a working progress, where the official completion date won’t be until around 2030. Some consider Masdar City to be a city designed for the elite. A city in such a developed and rich economy may not benefit developing and poorer economics. However this, in my opinion, isn’t what Masdar is about. Masdar is about spreading the wealth of green knowledge to the rest of the world. I do understand how Masdar City can be considered this, as it could widen the development gap, whereby developing economies may be left behind.

Overall, Masdar City has some incredible benefits. Even though it started as a vision, it is definitely developing into something real. In the long term, I believe that Masdar City can contribute greatly to creating a sustainable economy and environment, and will help to develop some great technologies, especially if you consider the huge amount of funding that it has. However, perhaps Masdar City shouldn’t be the only option for promoting green technology. In the UAE, I find that there is, in general, a lack of promotion of green technology. I mean recycling is somewhat promoted, but not to the extent that it encourages people to go to their local supermarket and recycle. Instead, of focusing solely on Masdar City, the UAE could maybe look at promoting green technology throughout the country as well.

Thank you for reading!

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