Developments along Abu Dhabi/Dubai border

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For those who are interested:


As anyone who commutes regularly between the UAE's two largest cities Abu Dhabi and Dubai knows, the previously barren desert land between them is rapidly being developed. The past two years have seen a number of significant projects announced many of which will give rise to urban communities populating previously undeveloped areas and creating new residential, business and industrial hubs for the UAE.

The key driver for the creation of new urban communities like Alghadeer and Ghantoot City is the need for easily commutable additional accommodation to facilitate proposed industrial and commercial expansion in the area.
The planned increase in economic and industrial activity in the two major UAE Ports – Khalifa Port currently under construction at Taweelah and Jebel Ali located in the Jebel Ali Freezone is part of the United Arab Emirate Government's well publicised economic diversification plans. The country has always been a major trading hub and in recent years has leveraged its strategic location between the West and the East to increase its import/export business and to transit passengers and cargo around the globe.

Khalifa Port & Industrial Zone

The Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone is a new port and industrial area which is currently being developed at Taweelah halfway between Abu Dhabi island and the Dubai border. The project is estimated to cost over US$5.5 billion (Dhs28 billion) and includes the construction of a world-scale container and industrial port, and the development of over 100 square kilometres of industrial, logistics, commercial, educational and residential special economic and free zones.

In the first quarter of this year, Abu Dhabi Ports Company awarded contracts to begin the construction of the new port set to be operational by the end of 2010, and two major earthworks contracts for the Khalifa Port Industrial Zone (KPIZ).

The industrial zone will allow foreign firms majority ownership rights and will play a major role in Abu Dhabi’s industrial and economic diversification by serving as a key hub for large scale industrial investments that will be serviced by a state-of-the-art port, transport and other infrastructure facilities and services.

One of the first projects to be located at the Chemicals Industrial City within KPIZ is Chemaweyaat Complex 1. It is expected to be the world’s largest grassroots fully chemicals integrated complex with a total production of around seven million tons per annum of olefins, aromatics, oxide and ammonia derivatives. The Chemaweyaat Complex 1 is expected to be complete by 2013.

As well as chemical manufacturing, the zone will cater to base metals, heavy industry, trade/logistics, building materials, medium and light industry. A number of industrial players have already committed to establishing capacity at Khalifa Industrial Zone including a steel mill and Emirates Aluminium smelting complex, the largest smelter in the world, which will create 4,000 jobs for UAE nationals and produce approx 1.4 billion tons per annum. This strategic alliance between DUBAL and Mubadala will add value to the local energy sector and pave the way for new downstream industries to establish themselves in the world's largest industrial city.

Ahmed Saeed Al Calily, Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Ports Company, said: "Our objective is to act as an enabler for trade and development and facilitate its contribution to the national economy. In doing so, we will provide our customers and stakeholders with the highest levels of service in a responsive and transparent manner,"

The new Khalifa Port will become Abu Dhabi's main shipping terminal, taking over from Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi city. The industrial area at Mussafah, which was to have a new port, will instead be linked by rail to Taweelah. KPIZ will create a gateway for the import of all cargo into Abu Dhabi and export of goods manufactured in the adjacent industrial zone. The port will handle 37 million tons a year of general cargo and five million containers by 2028.

Jebel Ali Free Zone

Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) was established in 1985 and is now host to over 6,000 international companies. One in seven employees in Dubai work for companies based in the free zone. Spread over an area of 49 square kilometres JAFZA, ranks as one of the worlds largest and the fastest growing free zones which since 2000 has grown over 330 per cent. The development of World Central and the opening of cargo facilities at Al Maktoum International will aid further expansion and the addition of the Jebel Ali Conference Zone and more office buildings opening up along the Sheikh Zayed Road will drive an increase in employees.

World Central

Attracting and transporting visitors through the UAE will be the job of Dubai World Central (DWC). The 140 square kilometres city taking shape in Dubai (close to the Abu Dhabi border) will provide an added impetus to the UAE's ambitious tourism expansion plans.

DWC is providing a real estate platform for hospitality and leisure operators to construct their properties close to Al Maktoum International Airport and inland from Dubai Waterfront. DWC Golf City, DWC Commercial City, DWC Residential City, Dubai Logistics City and DWC Aviation City comprise DWC components.

Al Maktoum International Airport

Al Maktoum International Airport (JXB),is forecast to become the world's largest. It is being developed with the purpose of complementing the existing Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport. Formerly known as Jebel Ali International Airport and as Dubai World Central International Airport, the new name became official in November 2007, honoring the late Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum, former ruler of the Emirate.

Managed by the newly established Dubai Airports company, the Dhs29.7 billion (USD8.1 billion) airport is the crown jewel of the 140 square kilometre Dubai World Central aviation complex, a six-segment multi-purpose aviation and tourism community.

JXB will begin operations when the first passenger and cargo terminals are completed at the end of 2008, and will initially only handle freighter flights. In the second phase, starting mid 2009, it will be open for charter and low-cost carriers. Upon completion in 2015, the six million square metre airport will be the world's largest cargo and passenger hub with an annual cargo capacity of 12 million tons and a passenger capacity of 120-150 million passengers per year.

Keeping pace with all this commercial and industrial development are some major residential communities clustered around the Abu Dhabi-Dubai border. These are being established to address the future accommodation needs driven by the UAE's economic expansion and will create much needed sustainable open space cities for future residents.


One of the newest projects to be revealed is Sorouh Real Estate's Alghadeer, a major new development located at Saih As Sidirah on the Abu Dhabi–Dubai border.

Bringing the concept of 'Easy Living’ to life, Sorouh is developing Alghadeer as a self sustaining community, which will host a variety of educational, recreational, social and commercial amenities.

A mixed use development whose first phase is spread over three million square metres, the project is designed to make life easy for residents working in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the surrounding major commercial and industrial developments. Alghadeer provides affordable luxury housing including apartments, town houses and villas.

According to Mounir D. Haidar, Sorouh Real Estate’s CEO: “This is a prominent site with tremendous potential due to its accessibility to major highways linking all the commercial centres in the UAE. The site’s location at the Abu Dhabi–Dubai border places it in a unique position to meet residential and commercial demand from a broad area including many new industrial developments. While housing and living costs in Dubai continue to rise, Alghadeer offers a solution due to its proximity, extensive onsite facilities and competitive pricing.”

Ghantoot City

Marginally closer to Abu Dhabi city, the previously undeveloped Ghantoot area is ideally situated for access to Abu Dhabi International Airport, the new Khalifa Port development and the Dubai Al Maktoum International Airport
The US$6.8 billion Ghantoot Development will cover an area of 6.7 million square metres, becoming home to approximately 100,000 residents and 400,000 square metres of commercial and office space. Infrastructure investment alone is estimated at US$817 million, with a phased completion schedule spanning 13 years.

The development of Ghantoot City will create a major new conurbation spread along both sides of the Ghantoot Waterway which will be extended to provide an inland marina. Designed as an open space low to mid rise community a major highlight will a 150 key six star hotel nestling in the midst of an 18 hole championship Golf Course and 500 exclusive private villas. In line with Abu Dhabi’s sustainable future positioning, the master plan will integrate carbon footprint strategies and innovations in sustainable urban design and construction. Construction will begin in August of this year with phase 1 due for completion in 2015.

Across the border in Dubai there are a number of major developments which are changing the desert landscape. One of the most significant of these is the Dubai Waterfront.

The Dubai Waterfront

Construction of Nakheel's ambitious waterfront project which nestles around the Palm Jebel Ali is now well underway. The development will add 70 kilometres to the Dubai coastline and will be twice the size of Hong Kong when it is complete, making it the largest waterfront and the largest man-made development in the world. The project is a conglomeration of canals and artificial islands creating a variety of mixed use zones including commercial, residential, resort, and amenity areas. The vision of the project is "to create a world-class destination for residents, visitors and businesses in the world's fastest growing city".

Run by the Dubai Waterfront Company, the project is open to foreign investment with developer, Nakheel, owning a 51 per cent stake.
The project is expected to create one million jobs when complete. Waterfront's surrounding areas – Jebel Ali Free Zone and Port Authority, the Techno Park, Dubai Industrial City and Al-Maktoum Airport – are also expected, between them, to create one million jobs over the next five years. Once completed in 2018, the various sectors of the development are anticipated to host a population of 552,000 permanent residents with a transient population of 370,000.

TABLE: Waterfront developments broken down
Waterfront development Description Hectares Built-up area (millions of square metres) Population Completion date
Omran Low-cost housing for people working on Nakheel and other projects 238 0.81 60,000 (transient) 2010
Veneto 14,000 villas and 13,000 low-rise apartments 214 0.86 14,000 2012
Madinat Arab Medium- to high-density luxury villas 700 12.29 251,000 2015
Boulevard Park and Canal District Medium density, medium income, five harbours 178.97 4.33 75,000 2016
Badrah One of the biggest projects in Dubai in its own right 575 5.7 120,000 2017
Waterfront City Central business district - central island and four districts, Boulevard, Madinat Al Soor, the Resort and the Marina 330 (570 including water mass) 12 92,000 permanent and 310,000 transient (working) 2018

With plans to link the Dubai and Abu Dhabi metros with a high speed rail link commuting between these new urban communities and the major UAE Cities will be a doddle. For those of us who have no choice but to commute by car between the two cities at present, the next few years will see us witnessing some pretty major construction as the once clearly defined border between the two emirates becomes more blurred.


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Here is a further update on Alghadeer. When i spoke to Sorouh last week they said they were prioritising Alghadeer and it will be delivered as per the original program.

27 January 2009 – Abu Dhabi, UAE:

Sorouh Real Estate PJSC, one of Abu Dhabi’s leading master-planners and developers, confirmed today that construction of its master-planned community at alghadeer remains fully on schedule, following ground-breaking in October 2008, with the first show villas nearing completion.

The company described alghadeer, a community for 18,000 residents lying between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as a “strategic priority” following the granting of Investment Zone status to the project during 2008.

Mounir Haidar, Chief Executive Officer of Sorouh Real Estate PJSC, said:
“Abu Dhabi’s Investment Zones are strategically important to the development of the Emirate and offer serious and significant opportunities to real estate developers. “We have been progressing full speed ahead at SHAMS Abu Dhabi on Reem Island, also an Investment Zone, and the same is true at alghadeer, which we regard as a strategic priority for the company.

“We broke ground in October and infrastructure works are well underway. Our show villas will shortly be open to the public and enabling work is progressing. Our sales and fund-raising activities during 2008 gave us strong cash reserves to fund development in 2009 and alghadeer is one of the major strategic projects on which Sorouh is focusing on.

” Work started at alghadeer in early October 2008, and when completed in late 2012, it will be home to 18,000 residents. More than 6,000 homes will be constructed within the six villages that make up alghadeer - Baraha, Liwa, Falaj and Khaleej and the central villages of Buhayra and Khubaira.

Residents will enjoy access to facilities including seven mosques, two kindergartens, two primary schools, a private international school, two secondary schools, sports clubs, community centres, retail outlets, numerous restaurants and cafés and cinemas, all surrounded by lush green parks and walkways. alghadeer will also contain a hotel with facilities overlooking alghadeer lake.

Located just 40 minutes from Abu Dhabi, and 30 minutes from the heart of Dubai, alghadeer is positioned close to some of the UAE’s most significant new industrial zones and facilities, including the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai World Central.

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