Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mainland and Airport Area Framework Plans

Located on the Arabian Peninsula, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is the largest and wealthiest of seven states that make up the petroleum-rich United Arab Emirates. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Abu Dhabi and its leadership has embraced a vision to become a sustainable and globally-competitive capital city, which they articulated in Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 (PAD 2030). Among the primary objectives of PAD 2030 is to manage growth on the mainland adjacent to Abu Dhabi Island. To ensure that this area develops according to the principles of PAD 2030, the newly created Urban Planning Council (UPC) hired a team of planners and economists lead by Clarion Associates to create a development framework plan for the mainland area and a detailed framework for the airport district. The Planning NEXT team was responsible for developing the plan’s land use and community facilities component.


The effort had three major phases: a baseline analysis of existing conditions and development commitments; scenarios for mitigation of development commitments; and a final framework plan for a preferred scenario. Each part of the planning process provided the Urban Planning Council with tools and information that they could use to guide development and carry out the vision of PAD 2030 in the Gateway Area of Abu Dhabi.

A hierarchy of mixed use centers.

The final plan addresses land use, transportation, distribution of community facilities, and hierarchies and distributions of office, retail and mixed use centers. The plan also includes growth management recommendations to bolster UPC’s development review process. One the primary recommendations of the plan is the idea of creating a rational hierarchy of mixed use centers that include neighborhood, district and regional centers. These centers will be connected with a range of transport options. Development of these centers will be timed based on adequate provision of infrastructure.

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Project Type: district plan
Community Type: large city, international
Client: Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
Services: land use planning, strategic planning