Amer Hussain Al Hammadi, director of planning and infrastructure at the UPC, said that as current housing conditions in some areas in Baniyas-South Wathba were considered poor, residents may be asked to relocate temporarily while damaged houses are rebuilt. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The population of one of Abu Dhabi's oldest and largest Emirati communities is set to double by 2030, Abu Dhabi's Urban Planning Council revealed yesterday.

Announcing the Baniyas-South Wathba Revitalisation Master Plan, the UPC said the plan included upgrading 7,000 existing homes which currently house 69,000 residents across 6,500 hectares of land. The expansion plan envisages an extra 2,000 houses across 7,000 hectares.

The UPC told journalists yesterday that as current housing conditions in some areas in Baniyas-South Wathba were considered poor, residents may be asked to relocate temporarily while damaged houses are rebuilt. They would eventually be given the option of returning to the same location.

"Various industrial sites currently available at the Baniyas-South Wathba will be relocated and redistributed to other designated industrial areas in Abu Dhabi in order to reduce environmentally hazardous dangers on residents," said Amer Hussain Al Hammadi, director of planning and infrastructure at the UPC.

Baniyas-South Wathba consists of three major communities — Baniyas, Al Wathba and Al Nahda, located 20 kilometres south-west of the Abu Dhabi Island, adjacent to the communities of Shamkha, Mafraq and Khalifa City B.

"We expect Baniyas-South Wathba to consist 60 per cent of Emiratis and 40 per cent of expatriates, who will all have access to a balanced mix of employment, retail, education, health, community, leisure, sport facilities, parks and open areas," Humaid Al Marzouki, Planning Manager at UPC, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the meeting.

"We've conducted a supply and demand study mainly focusing on Emirati housing, since we expect the Emirati population to drastically increase by that time."

The project's first phase has already started, with approval to start work in "Bawabat Al Sharq" (in Al Wathba), where more schools, parks, and community facilities will be built.

"Changes in the area will not be recognisable anytime soon, not even for those familiar with the area. New plots for Emiratis will be allocated and existing homes will be revitalised to improve the quality of overall housing and to meet day-to-day community needs," said Al Hammadi.

New Emirati houses will be designed using a "Fareej" neighbourhood concept, creating a new urban fabric that promotes an Arabic contemporary lifestyle in an environmentally and culturally sustainable manner.

Baniyas-South Wathba will be accessible through various public transit links, walking and cycling.

Master plan

When asked whether a tram service, similar to that in Capital District, is part of the master plan, Al Hammadi said: "There are thoughts of creating an integrated transportation network, however, that all depends on the Department of Transport, it's still too early to tell."

One of the most challenging factors in the project, according to the UPC planning and infrastructure director, is connecting different neighbourhoods to one another.

"Connecting highways and improving existing intersections between two areas is quiet a long and challenging process. We need to propose new and improved intersections in the area in the next 20 years," added Al Hammadi.

More government and municipal jobs are also expected to be introduced in the area in order to enhance employment, business investment, financial and housing opportunities for its residents.

Local, neighbourhood and district centres have been developed to address current needs and services, while supporting the areas economic development.

Local centres are positioned within the fabric of the residential community to serve 2,000 to 5,000 people; it provides a local mosque, minor retail and a local urban public park.

Neighbourhood centres are positioned in central cross roads in alignment with public transport routes to serve 10,000 to 12,000 people, providing its residents with services such as: a general clinic, children's nursery, specialty clinic, polyclinic, neighbourhood scale park, Friday Mosque, neighbourhood level retail facilities, kindergarten, intermediate school, secondary school, playground and petrol station.

The district-level centres emerge along principal routes to serve approximately 20,000 people, providing a kindergarten and primary school, day care centre, post office, health care, sports club, cultural centre for women, youth centre and a district scale park.

Baniyas-South Wathba Profile

  • 71 per cent of the population in Baniyas-South Wathba is aged below 30
  • 48 per cent of the population is aged below 25 years.
  • Baniyas-South Wathba has a significant number of Emiratis, 36,000 citizens (or 58 per cent of the total Baniyas-South Wathba population).
  • Baniyas-South Wathba houses residents from a diverse range of nationalities. 79 per cent of residents were born in the UAE, Middle East or other Arabic speaking countries.
  • 15 per cent of residents were born in Asian countries, with 5 per cent from Africa.
  • 63 per cent of Baniyas-South Wathba's population is of working age (between 16 and 65 years).
  • 31,200 residents (or 50 per cent of residents) are employed.
  • A relatively low proportion of residents (4,700 or 11 per cent of those over 15 years) have tertiary qualifications
  • Of those aged over 15 years, 62 per cent are married and 34 per cent are single.