Dubai Muncipality Director-General Dawoud Al Hajri addressing the World Government Summit in Dubai on Wednesday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai is an “unstoppable metropolis” setting high benchmarks and serving as an inspiration to the world, a top official of the Dubai Municipality said at the World Government Summit 2023 in Dubai today.

Speaking at a session titled “Future Cities: A City Without Boundaries”, Dawoud Al Hajri referred to the existing model supplied by Dubai for the cities of the future and limitless cities and said, “You may be thinking now, what is a limitless city. Because Dubai’s leaders believed in the future, saw it coming, and took action on it, the emirate has proven to the rest of the world that it is an unstoppable metropolis setting high benchmarks and serving as an inspiration to the rest of the globe by exceeding citizens’ expectations and working to fulfil their ambitious dreams.”

According to Hajri, technological advancements, global food security, growth in construction industry, energy production, environmental eco-systems will be drivers of future cities.

He said, “Cities and countries must work together in close co-operation to help build a sustainable city.”

Cities match population goals

Al Hajri said: “The future is here. There are rapid changes going on in the world. Governments must support their population as cities match the goals of its population. Dubai adheres to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, who stated that a positive leader closes his eyes before starting work and envisions future accomplishments in all their beauty and detail, and can feel the outcome.

“We are in an everlasting race to develop cities as we lead a fast life with frequent changes in the global economy, politics and environment. Eventually, change becomes a constant factor in the lifespan of cities,” he pointed out.

Al Hajri said here in the UAE, rapid advancements in technology, including the expanding role of Artificial Intelligence (AI), as recently demonstrated by ChatGPT, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Twinning of Cities, and the Metaverse, all enhance human happiness and welfare.

He said Dubai developed 46 million square metres of green space at the end of 2022 and is planting 500 trees every day. In line with Dubai’s sustainable goals, the Dubai Municipality director general also said 40,000 building permits were issued in 2022 for “sustainable” buildings. He said Dubai Municipality has also completed a waste recycling plant with a capacity of 1.9 million tonnes of yearly waste. “This will produce clean energy for 135,000 residential units of Dubai.”

Food security

Al Hajri emphasised the future of global food security, which has been a priority for governments. “We need to think of more sustainable ways to achieve food security by focusing on food sciences and technologies to secure alternate food supplies, such as using seaweed as a primary source of protein and animal cells to produce meat.”

“In order to support the future of food security and assist us in mitigating the challenges, Dubai has started to rely on urban agriculture and support and develop vertical and water agriculture initiatives.”

Al Hajri who is also Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the UAE Food Bank, signed, in conjunction with the World Government Summit in Dubai, a partnership agreement to preserve the blessing of food from wastage and destruction, and to strengthen the bonds of joint cooperation between them in their fields of work.

The partnership was signed by Dr. Moez Al Shahdi, founder and head of the Regional Food Banks Network, and Manal Bin Yaarouf, Chairman of the UAE Food Bank Steering Committee.

Al Hajri said: “The UAE Food Bank is keen to strengthen its strategic partnerships with the entities that support its field of work. This is a continuation of the goal for which it was established to solidify the value of feeding, collecting and delivering food to deserving families, within a sustainable institutional framework. This comes in implementation of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumin establishing the values of giving and benevolence in Emirati society, and the wise dealing with the blessing of food.”

He added: “The new partnership with the Regional Food Banks Network will support the UAE Food Bank’s operational processes. It will also enhance cooperation between them to ensure the application of health and safety standards for food preservation.”

Construction industry

Al Hajri said the UAE in the last 15 years has invested $450 billion in construction projects and infrastructure. “It is a vital driver for the growth of a city. He said government and private sector companies must adapt to future new drivers and opportunities.

He said that the world is expected to see average home electricity usage to increase 75 per cent by 2050. “It is therefore necessary for more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives to meet demands in light of global warming and various countries’ energy crisis.”