11th April 2019


H.E. Falah Al Ahbabi

Abu Dhabi has become a world leader in sustainable development by balancing economic growth with social harmony, consideration of the environment, and cultural vitality. “The vision for Abu Dhabi as a global thought leader of clear and innovative urban development strategies is one of our Emirate’s most important strategic projects,” H.E. Al Ahbabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities said. “We are privileged to play a role as a hub and a benchmark for those in our region working in favor of sustainable urban development.”

Building sustainable Arab cities will require partnerships between the private and public sectors and between local organizations and the international community. The Pan-Arab Urban Development Symposium (PAUDS) is the first step toward achieving these goals. The Symposium brings together experts in urban planning, disruptive thinking and government to discuss the most-pressing issues the region faces. A key outcome of PAUDS is a list of strategic priorities detailing the most important questions to be answered. Innovative approaches, such as data partnerships and frontier technologies, will yield insights that help to transform the future of Arab urban planning. The recommendations from the panels and Ideas Lab will help inform the agenda at the World Urban Forum (WUF10), which will be held in Abu Dhabi in February 2020.

“Next year we will be the first Arab country to host the international urban forum”, H.E. Al Ahbabi said. “The UAE is taking the lead as we want to push the country as an incubator for innovation in the Arab world. Today’s Symposium will pave the way for next year as we shape new strategies based on the four pillars: social, economic, cultural and environmental.”


H.E. Al Ahbabi called on all stakeholders to boost the priorities of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a list of 17 goals including sustainable cities and communities. To meet these goals, the UAE has adopted the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions and dedicated this year to the theme of Tolerance. In addition, the government launched Ghadan 21, a 50-billion-dirham fund aimed at stimulating economic growth, with a specific portion earmarked for start-ups.


“Arab cities will be based on data in the future, he said. “We understand the importance of technology and have a firm belief in our capabilities to become an attractive place to thrive. Initiatives such as Ghadan 21 will ensure that Abu Dhabi becomes a hub for creativity. At the same time, we must build bridges to all communities. It is necessary to embrace diversity, and we believe we are a role model of tolerance in the world.”, H.E. Al Ahbabi added.