How Dubai Plans To Turn Into A ‘Walkable City’ In 4 Years

Feb 4, 2016

Dubai 2020 Master Plan aims to cluster business and population around metro stations to boost 'walkability'

Dubai: Walking around the city will become a breeze sooner than you think as Dubai begins to implement its plans of becoming a "compact city".

City planners say the aim is for Dubai to rank high on the world's walkability and liveability index in four years’ time. 

Speaking to Gulf News on Wednesday, Najib Mohammad Saleh from the planning department at Dubai Municipality, said that Dubai’s Master Plan for 2020 will revamp the current structure of the city to reach that goal.

The promote sustainability and achieve maximum benefits from existing infrastructure, the compact city approach means that all future projects up until 2020 will be concentrated near Mohammad Bin Zayed (MBZ) Road (the former Emirates Road).

Development plan

“We are carrying out both strategic and detailed measures to reduce auto dependency and alleviate traffic volume. On the strategic level, Dubai 2020’s master plan promotes a transit-oriented development policy aimed at concentrating business and population around Dubai metro stations to increase ridership,” he said.

The compact city approach adopted by the municipality will also help reduce the people’s trip lengths, as well as minimising the effects of heavy traffic and pollution.

To ensure that the plan goes according to schedule, the municipality has already informed real estate developers to present a Traffic Impact Study (TIS) as a mandatory component in their application when submitting projects for approval.

“Developers should present their study in a way that addresses traffic generation and circulation to [guarantee] smooth traffic movement, in addition to promoting walkability. But beforehand, the developer should first secure approval from the Roads and Transport Authority in their TIS report,” he said.

A strategic plan such as this one intends to guide medium and long-term urban growth, and as Saleh explained, this particular road map to the city’s future also takes socio-economic and environmental factors into consideration. 

Population growth

According to Dubai Statistics Centre, the population of residents in Dubai as of January 2016 was 2.4 million, with a growth rate of five per cent.

Having initiated the city’s master plan in 2011, a clear-cut framework has since been set by the municipality, putting the population estimate between 2.8 million and 3.4 million by 2020.  

Some of Dubai Municipality’s housing projects expected to cater to the influx of residents by 2020 are already underway, including the Mohammad Bin Rashid Housing Project and Desert Rose.


The project – which is expected to house 160,000 people – is located between Al Ruwaya and Al Aweer and will cover a total area of 14,000 hectares.


The city will be built in the shape of a desert flower

“Desert Rose is mainly a local housing project to meet the increasing demand [of residents]. The project, which is currently under detailed design, is initiated and carried out by [us]… the projects cover a spectrum of housing classes from low to high income,” said Saleh, adding that several private developers have also submitted housing projects along MBZ Road.

The city’s urban planning also involves evaluating the amount of office and retail space needed by 2020. There were 5.1 million square metres of existing office space in 2010, and the demand for 2020 is expected to add an additional 1.8 million square metres.

The total retail floor space in 2010 was 5.3 million square metres, and is expected to increase to 6.5 million square metres.

Credits to Gulf News

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