Carbon-free city, sea view

Via, the United Arab Emirates capital of Dubai is planning construction of the world’s first ‘zero-carbon’ city in the middle of a petroleum-drenched desert. It sounds like offering pony rides in the middle of a zombie theme park, but also looks like they’re serious.

Using the traditional planning principles of a walled city, together with existing technologies to achieve sustainable development, this six sq km expanse will house an energy, science and technology community.

Called the Masdar (meaning ‘source’ in Arabic) Initiative, this ambitious plan for a ‘Green City’ is being driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a private, joint stock company established and wholly-owned by Mubadala Development Company.

‘‘As the first major hydrocarbon-producing nation to take such a step, Abu Dhabi has established its leadership position by launching Masdar, a global cooperative platform for open engagement in the search for solutions to some of mankind’s most pressing issues — energy security, environment and truly sustainable human development,” Masdar chief executive Sultan Al Jaber said.

Abu Dhabi accounts for more than 90 percent of the UAE’s oil resources, and the country’s reserves, exceeding 100 billion barrels, ranked third largest in the world.

The ‘Green City’ will house the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a graduate science and research institute that will be established in cooperation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; world-class laboratories; commercial space for related-sector companies; light manufacturing facilities and a selected pool of international tenants who will invest, develop, and commercialise advanced energy technologies.

There is also a lark in there about ‘rapid personal transport systems’ and reference to the fact that Abu Dhabi sees temps north of 50C in July and August, so  like any good theme park brochure there’s a little something for everyone.

Even with petroleum reserves of more than 100 billion barrels, the Sultan is seeing the writing on the wall. From the time of Aristotle, scientific knowledge has profited from time spent in Arab hands, so we’ll see. It’s not like we’re trying anything similar outside of Indianapolis or anything. Imagine the headlines if that were the case.