Undisputed regional hub
Dubai has a well-earned reputation of venturing into new areas of growth and innovation, creating world-class industries. It is already a regional and global leader in aviation, tourism, retail, trade, logistics, services and real estate, among other areas.
The next 20 years will see Dubai build on its existing strengths and develop a master plan that will thrive on innovation and investment.
Under the initiative, the population will rise to 5.8 million by 2040, from 3.3 million in 20201. This population growth will be driven by robust economic activity and investment in new sectors such as artificial intelligence, robotics and aerospace.
Other key objectives are to boost environmental sustainability, to safeguard the emirate’s cultural and urban heritage and to develop a comprehensive legislation and planning governance model, according to the masterplan1.
“HSBC’s Future Cities research predicts that the most successful global cities will be the ones that prioritise sustainable innovation, empowering human capital and supporting new flows of trade,” said Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO of HSBC UAE and Head of International for HSBC Bank Middle East Limited.
“This group of global cities, of which Dubai is one, will be connected to one another, integrated by new trade routes, advanced mobility and digital connectivity,” Sharaf added. “The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan recognises these emerging trends and will help Dubai grow into a global city for the future.”
The UAE is also cementing its position as a regional gateway to China. This year, DP World and Zhejiang China Commodity City Group unveiled the first phase of Dubai Traders Market in the Jebel Ali Free Zone aimed at strengthening the emirate’s position as a regional gateway to China3.
The AED600-million is the region’s first smart freezone marketplace for retail and wholesale industries. Once fully complete, the Yiwu Market UAE will offer a dedicated international logistics line between Dubai Yiwu Market and China Yiwu Market, to fast-track Chinese goods to Dubai at competitive costs for distribution across the Middle East, Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe2.
State-of-the-art urban centres
Anchoring the development will be a nexus of five thriving urban centres within the emirate.
The city’s traditional heart, centered on bustling Deira and Bur Dubai, will be revitalised with upgrades and state-of-the-art facilities.
Downtown Dubai, featuring the soaring Burj Khalifa and Business Bay, constitutes the financial nerve centre, while Dubai Marina, including its two palm islands and Jumeirah Beach Residence, will be the city’s hospitality hub.
An additional two new urban centres will be developed in the expanding metropolis.
The site of the Expo 2020 festival will be repurposed after the six-month event is over, becoming a hotspot for affordable housing and a location for the events, tourism and logistics sectors.
Finally, Dubai Silicon Oasis, already a nascent science and technology hub, will emerge as a driver of the digital economy, attracting talent and companies in the innovation space.
Each urban centre will be serviced by towns housing 1 million to 1.5 million people,1 allowing authorities to map out transit requirements, infrastructure, and social and educational services such as hospitals, schools, leisure centres and commercial spaces.
New opportunities in tourism and health
Investors, businesses and entrepreneurs will also be eyeing new opportunities.
The government has earmarked a 13 percent increase in land area for hotels and tourist activities, taking the total allocated space to 168 square kilometres, roughly three times the size of Manhattan in New York. The initiative will also increase space for education and health facilities by 25 percent and for public beaches by 400 percent1.
Another central tenet of the masterplan is the development of natural reserves and green spaces that will make up 60 percent of the emirate’s total area.
Dubai’s latest masterplan is part of the country’s wider effort to attract global talent and investments.
The UAE cabinet approved a new system in March 2021 that enables professionals from all over the world to reside in the country while working remotely for employers abroad. The one-year remote work visa allows foreigners to enter the UAE under self-sponsorship and work in line with the terms issued with the visa. The cabinet also approved a multiple-entry tourist visa for all nationalities that will boost the country’s economic status3.
Parallel to that, the UAE is also nurturing a startup culture to build new national champions and create a cluster of a new breed of companies focused on innovation, sustainable energy, technology, mobility and ecommerce.
Cities all over the world are battling for talent and investment dollars in the post-COVID-19 knowledge economy. Dubai’s timely 2040 Master Plan makes a strong pitch for international companies and knowledge workers to relocate to the emirate; a city fully equipped as a global business hub, but also a family-oriented, culture-rich metropolis.