DUBAI, 12th February, 2019 (WAM) — Dawood Al Hajiri, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, today provided a view of Dubai’s sustainable future where the emirates will be proactively shaped by innovators, technologists, artists and the public. Al Hajiri spoke at a session titled ‘Rethinking Cities of Tomorrow: A Human-Centric Approach’ on the concluding day of the seventh World Government Summit (WGS 2019).
“Technology, particularly AI, is central to the Dubai 2040 urban plan. As stated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, we will build a city of the future through the active participation of innovators, technologists, artists and the public.
“For this purpose, we have a dedicated application for feedback – ‘Dubai: How You See It 2040’. Driverless vehicles and other automated transport will link different city areas. The land of Dubai is the land of talent, and the Dubai urban plan is holistically designed to provide a safe and healthy green environment that puts people first in all aspects of social, economic and cultural life.”
Explaining the historical trends that influenced contemporary urban planning, Al Hajri said, “The impact of the industrial revolution on the growth of cities, particularly the economic factors that determined the pattern of new urban settlements, is the source of many of the challenges global cities face today.”
“In addressing the planning challenges that now confront us, we have to consider many questions, such whether urban planning impacts health. Scientific studies have demonstrated the link between urban design and health issues such as high blood pressure and obesity. In some South East Asian cities, for instance, levels of obesity are four times greater than those found in rural areas. Also, research suggests that up to 20 percent of city dwellers experience hypertension.”
He added, “In order to address such health concerns, we need to maintain balance in our city design principles. Some badly planned urban districts increase personal isolation and limit access for physically challenged people. For many urban children, the only safe place they have left to play in is inside their houses. When public playing areas are closed; in some cities, spaces dedicated to playing areas have shrunk by up to 90 percent.”
Al Hajiri noted that effective urban planning can provide the tools to tackle all of these problems. “In our virtual designs, the happiness of people is a top priority. We are particularly aware of the value of ‘walkability’ indexes for global cities. In world centres such as Copenhagen, Oslo and Tokyo, careful planning has encouraged cycling and walking, and also provided areas that help people relax and interact.”
He noted that in Seoul, authorities have sought to enhance the quality of life by building attractive features such as hanging gardens. Likewise, in Barcelona, the redesign of streets for pedestrians ensured that walking rates increased by 30 percent.