Reports about Masdar City's demise or failure have been greatly exaggerated. Despite a softening real estate market, cranes can be found all over the United Arab Emirates, and some of those are found around Masdar City. The sustainable development locus in Abu Dhabi and the wider MENA region, Masdar City continues to offer the Middle East valuable green building expertise as it continues to expand.

More than a third of the City’s developed area will be completed within the next five years, a significant proportion of it by third-party developers whose projects will be realized according to Abu Dhabi's Estidama sustainable building standards.

These upcoming developments include a six-floor office block and upscale private apartments and townhouses, which will be completed within the City’s existing footprint by the end of next year by Tristar Real Estate, a subsidiary of the UAE-based conglomerate Tristar Holdings.

A new campus of Emirates College of Technology, an Abu Dhabi-based private higher education institution, and a new GEMS Education school are also amongst the future projects planned. The grounds will eventually host an estimated 3,000 students, the majority of whom are expected to be UAE nationals, as well as laboratories, a library and other study facilities, as well as an auditorium and sport hall.

All of these projects will meet a minimum ‘3 Pearl’ rating under the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s green building standards framework, Estidama, meaning they will be designed to be as much as 40 percet more water and energy efficient than comparable existing buildings, while also incorporating more environmentally friendly materials in their construction.

In addition, the Masdar City campus of the Emirates College of Technology aims to incorporate smart cities technology, such as robotic parking automation, to maximize the efficient use of space, widening the adoption of architectural and civil engineering innovation in the region.

The Eco-Villa Prototype is designed to use 72 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than existing villas typical in Abu Dhabi, and can even export power to the national grid once they are equipped with rooftop solar panels.

Besides offering the real estate industry to gain hands-on experience in sustainable development, Masdar City is building its profile as a hub for knowledge building in both the classroom and the laboratory.

The City's anchor tenant, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, has graduated over 400 students since 2011 and honored its very first PhD students last year. The Institute has executed industry- and government-sponsored research contracts worth at least a total of US$60 million and conducts its own community outreach program, the Young Future Energy Leaders, engaging the brightest Arab youth in the subjects of alternative energy and clean technology.

The expanding Masdar City will also cater to the training and education needs of Abu Dhabi’s growing and increasingly diversified economy, including quality primary- and secondary-level schooling, and higher education in business, technology and vocational subjects.

The new school of GEMS Education, expected to start building this year within Masdar City’s planned R&D cluster, plans to offer the National Curriculum for England to about 2,500 students at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels. Meanwhile, Ryan International Group of Education Institutions is already operating Phase 1 of its CBSE school project with capacity for 2,700 students at Masdar City.

Masdar City’s ongoing expansion will be showcased at Cityscape Abu Dhabi, the real estate exhibition and conference taking place from April 12-14.

Image credit: Leon Kaye

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.