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The Economist | Urban dreamscapes: Starting from scratch

The Economist

Urban dreamscapes
Starting from scratch
Building the city of the future is costly and hard

MASDAR, ABU DHABI

WHEN plans to build Masdar City were unveiled in 2006, the project felt like something out of the science-fiction classic “Dune”. In the desert in Abu Dhabi, above one of the planet’s largest reserves of fossil fuel, would rise the world’s first carbon-neutral and zero-waste city. But it would not rise directly from the sands; all its buildings would sit on an elevated platform. Underneath, the citizens would zoom around in self-driving pods. Above, they would feel comfortable despite scorching temperatures, thanks mainly to clever urban planning, such as shady narrow streets oriented in such a way that they can be swept by cooling desert winds.

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