Dubai Eyes Affordable Housing For All Sectors



DUBAI, Apr 5 – You will see more manmade islands, skyscrapers and multiple projects expanding the growth of Dubai in its march towards sustainable and competitive urban development planned for 2020.

But, at the core of the Dubai 2020 Urban Master Plan lies the vision for integrated land use with the provision of housing and community facilities for all sectors, it was revealed at the Urban Agenda 2020 Conference on Monday.

The government is indeed supporting the major developers to come up with fantastic projects that will add to the global image of Dubai. However, the government will have to interfere if the developers only focus on high-end projects and leave aside a section of the population who will suffer due to the lack of affordable housing, the head of the emirate’s Sustainability Committee Abdullah Raffia said at a panel discussion at the conference.

“Dubai is a nice city…but it is the mixed use projects what we are lacking in,” said Raffia, who is also the Assistant Director General for Engineering and Planning Sector at the Dubai Municipality. “What we see is everybody…all developers…want to develop high-end projects. But the city needs a spectrum of developments and a part of the spectrum has been left out a little bit and that is why we have some long distance travel.”

He noted that a lot of people live in other emirates because of affordable housing over there. “That’s because of a lack of affordable housing here in Dubai…Developers are always thinking high-end… We, as the government, are not interfering with developers. But I think it is time for developers to put their hands with the government and also look into the whole spectrum that is needed in Dubai,” he said pointing out the need for more mixed-use projects that have integrated and affordable infrastructure and transport facilities in Dubai.

Raffia said the government’s latest project ‘Desert Rose City’ — the recently announced Dubai Smart Sustainable City — is a model project that addresses the issue. The self-reliant residential city for Emiratis, he said, will see people living and working nearby.

“Desert Rose City is a mixed use city that takes care of a society that is very efficient, produces its own energy. There, people are moving but not going long distances.”

“We lack in policy and regulation with regards to mixed use projects. We are not catering to all class of people,” he said, calling for regulations to make projects that provide intelligent mixed use that is also affordable.

However, Najib Mohammed Saleh, the head of Dubai Urban Plan 2020 at the Dubai Municipality, said community facilities and affordable housing areas shall be addressed with policies and guidelines, and detailed land use plan in the upcoming phase-5 of the Urban Master Plan.

“A successful, livable city functions as its own ecosystem. It balances its social, economic and environmental needs through smart urban planning,” he said in his presentation.

“The total urban area in Dubai now is 93,000 hectares. By 2020, we need another 25,000 hectares for different type of land use, residential commercial and industrial. We also have a target of keeping eight to 10 per cent of total land as conservation area and there will be provisions for a lot of open spaces and water bodies,” he later told Khaleej Times.

Saleh said the revised plan for 2020 in the context of the Expo win has adopted a population projection of 2.8 million with a medium growth rate of 4.5 per cent per year. “We are also prepared to handle a high growth rate that is expected to see a population of 3.4 million by 2020.”

While there would be developments all over Dubai, the maximum growth is expected around the Al Maktoum International Airport and DubaiLand. The plan also aims to limit the urban growth within the confines of Emirates Road, formerly known as the Dubai Bypass Road.

‘Dubai has crafted its economic vision 2020, and to now fulfill that goal of being a global business hub and economic centre, our strategy is to prioritise the needs of its citizens and build on these whilst being socially equitable and environmentally sustainable, as well as being economically driven. To ensure the continued growth of the emirate, we are setting out to construct a livable city that is totally modeled around the needs of the people that inhabit it through intelligent urban mapping and efficient design.”

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