Abu Dhabi, UAE
Mainland and Airport Area Framework Plans

When one of the fastest growing economies in the world decides to become a sustainable and globally competitive capital city, the only thing needed is the “how.” Our team—including long-time collaborators Clarion Associates, McBride Dale Clarion, and EDGE— was in the thick of it, helping Abu Dhabi leadership develop progressive plans for the mainland and airport to manage growth, protect the environment, and improve overall quality of life.


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. Its primary urban area, the island-city of Abu Dhabi, is the country’s second largest city and the seat of federal government. As one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Abu Dhabi’s leadership has embraced a vision to become a sustainable and globally-competitive capital city. In September 2007, Abu Dhabi leadership adopted Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 (PAD 2003) to articulate this vision and establish a framework of broad public policies to address land use, transport, economics, infrastructure, neighborhood quality, the environment and overall quality of life.
Among the primary objectives of PAD 2030 is management of 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 led by Clarion Associates to create a 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. 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 at three scales: neighborhood, district and regional. These centers will be connected with a range of transport options. Development of these centers will be timed based on adequate provision of infrastructure.
Each part of the planning process provided the UPC with tools and information to guide development and carrying out the vision of PAD 2030 in the Gateway Area of Abu Dhabi.

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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