Abu Dhabi to Show Off Culture and Sustainability at Cityscape, April 19-22

Abu Dhabi to Show Off Culture and Sustainability at Cityscape, April 19-22

Commercial News » Commercial Real Estate Edition | By Alma Kadragic | February 27, 2009 12:53 PM ET

(ABU DHABI, U.A.E.) -- While many of the world's real estate projects are frozen as the credit crisis unfolds, there are places where development continues. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has bet at least some of its future on mega projects featuring culture and sustainability. Those projects will be featured at Cityscape from April 19-22 in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Rohan Marwaha, Managing Director of the Cityscape series, is bullish on the future for Abu Dhabi. "Abu Dhabi, with multi-billion dollar long term plans for continued infrastructure development, is providing the world with remarkable opportunities that simply do not exist elsewhere," he said.

The city, Marwaha added, "is fast establishing itself as a beacon of cultural renaissance as well as a focus for futuristic, sustainable residential and commercial habitats."

The cultural renaissance will be at Saadiyat Island just outside the original island of Abu Dhabi with the first branch of the Louvre outside of Paris and the world's largest Guggenheim Museum as well as a performing arts center, a maritime museum, and a national history museum. These cultural institutions will be surrounded by villas, apartment houses, and hotels to create a city within a city.

The Louvre is designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, known in the Middle East as the architect of the Arab World Institute in Paris. Nouvel's design for Abu Dhabi features a dome that will control streams of light to illuminate people and works of art. Nouvel won the 2008 Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious award for architecture.

The Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi will be the largest Guggenheim and the most expensive at an estimated cost of $400 million. It recalls but is more complex than Gehry's smaller Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, that made the city a world class tourist attraction.

Construction of both museums is due to start this year with completion expected in 2013. Saadiyat Island is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year when completed by 2018 and will be home to around 160,000 people. Investment of more than $27 billion has been expected.

To demonstrate that a sustainable city is possible, Abu Dhabi has hired architectural firm Foster and Partners  to create Masdar, the world's first zero carbon city. The pioneering development has begun construction and will eventually house 40,000 people with no greenhouse gas emissions and no waste.

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