chapter  16
16 Pages

Estidama as a Model for Sustainable Urbanism in the Arab World: The Case Study of Abu Dhabi

While urban areas cover approximately 2 percent of the earth’s surface, over 50 percent of the world’s population is now living in cities, projected to increase by the year 2050 to an estimated 70 percent (United Nations 2013). This migration is having considerable environmental impacts associated with human activities, contributing to more than 80 percent toward global economic output, 60 to 80 percent of global energy consumption, and 70 percent of CO2 emissions (UN-Habitat 2011). These global trends are evident in Abu Dhabi’s transformation from a series of small remote nomadic tribal settlements to a burgeoning metropolis with a population approaching one million. Remarkably, this transformation occurred over the course of less than one generation. Settlement patterns of the past (based on familial and tribal relationships) were rapidly transplanted with the rational orthogonal grid layout of arterial streets responding to the modernist car-centric era of the 1960s and mega blocks punctuated with glass towers that have become the urban structure of Abu Dhabi today.