This week’s Foreign Exchange TV with Daljit Dhaliwal reminded us of the world’s first entirely green city being imagineered in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City allows no cars, runs on solar power, has an electric-powered light rail system, the world’s first hydroelectric plant and will cost upwards of $15 billion.
By 2016, this 2.5 square mile complex should house 50,000 people (all waste will be fully recycled). The city will be a testing ground and research facility where people will work on next-generation energy technologies. Solar thermal arrays will provide energy needed for air conditioning under Arabia’s baking sun.
The question is not how well this city runs in terms of energy efficiency, but how the human element responds to living inside an ecocultural bubble. Will Masdar City become a city of the future or, like the Bauhaus-inspired Paris slums where riots and eternal restlessness occur, become another failed social experiment?
At least we know residents will be getting happy on sun-enriched Vitamin D.