Media Info Pack (Oct.16, 2012)

Responsive Sustainable Urbanism

The UPC, in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Government entities, is playing an instrumental role in positioning Abu Dhabi as a forward thinking Arab Capital, as a cultural icon of the Middle East region, as a leading financial centre, a major industrial zone and a home to a truly cosmopolitan population.

Abu Dhabi’s Plan 2030 establishes a clear vision for sustainability as the foundation of any new development within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This commitment is a reflection of the values and ideals of our nation.

The focus on sustainable living in the Middle East is the guiding force behind ‘Estidama’, which means sustainability in Arabic. More than just a sustainability program, Estidama is the symbol of an inspired vision for governance and community development. It promotes a new mindset for building a forward thinking global capital.

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) functions as an innovative resource and regulatory body that reviews and guides new development to enhance the quality of our communities and the systems of life that support us. To establish a distinctive overarching framework for measuring sustainability performance beyond the usual planning and construction phases, Estidama is continually addressed through four distinct pillars: environmental, economic, social and cultural.

By promoting a new sense of responsibility through Estidama, the UPC is going beyond other sustainable development initiatives around the world, by creating new tools, resources and procedures crucial to the 2030 Vision.

The purpose of Estidama is to create a new sustainability framework that will direct our future course while allowing adaptation as new understanding evolves. This is a process that will require openness and full commitment to identify appropriate solutions, balancing the four pillars of Estidama. Cutting-edge technology will certainly help but not without new attitudes. It is time for a different approach to integration – one that teaches how to achieve an optimised end result versus simply giving people checklists.

Estidama’s Integrated Development Process (IDP) is the focus for this direction, demonstrating the UPC’s in-depth approach and commitment to a fully integrated process. The IDP approach represents the collective knowledge we have gained on what is working and what is not in many of the pioneering programs that have gone before us.

The goal is to achieve higher levels of sustainable design and practice by getting the design process right from the beginning. We must not forget that one of the most important legacies of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, “Father of the Nation”, was the preservation of the Emirates’ natural environment for future generations.

Through IDP, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Vision 2030 is realising the vision of providing a sustainable community that puts emphasis on responsible planning and growth while protecting the environments around it.

Aside from streamlining their flow of work, developers have discovered that Estidama can help them achieve their key objectives by delivering new standards. Hence, an increasing number of developers are implementing Estidama’s sustainability principles and going beyond the minimum requirements.

As Estidama is being implemented, it helps the residents of Abu Dhabi live in harmony with their environment and culture through building healthy communities, sites and buildings, reducing lifecycle costs, pollution and energy consumption, integrating renewable energy, and preserving natural resources.

Estidama: the core of the UPC’s Vision and Mission

Estidama has been created by the UPC to achieve the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s dream of a truly sustainable Emirate. It is also an aspiration and a manifestation of visionary governance that puts emphasis on carefully and responsibly managed development. Estidama is not a programme, a rating method or something people do; it is a vision and a desire to achieve a new sustainable way of life in the Arab world.

The ultimate goal of Estidama is to preserve and enrich Abu Dhabi’s physical and cultural identity, while creating an ever improved quality of life for its residents. In order to achieve our goal of Estidama, developers, design teams and even residents need to think differently about how they approach the design and planning process. Estidama touches on all aspects of life in Abu Dhabi - the way we build, the way we resource, the way we live our daily lives, the choices we make as employers - all in an effort to attain a sustainable way of living.

Now, the leadership of Abu Dhabi is progressing the principles and imperatives for sustainable development through the Estidama programme, recognising that the unique cultural, climatic and economic development needs of the region require a more localised definition of sustainability.

Estidama will continually evolve to embrace the rapidly changing concepts for sustainability, and ground them in the environmental, social, cultural, and economic needs of the GCC region. Estidama paves the way for a bright future for the Emirate, its citizens, its residents and the generations to follow. Consequently, the success of Estidama will depend on everyone in the Emirate working together to create a better future for all.

Four Pillars of Estidama

Estidama is founded on four key pillars of sustainability:

  • Reduce the demand for materials and consumption of energy and water.
  • Protect, enhance and restore fragile ecosystems in the region.
  • Reduce ground, air and water pollution to protect our health and well-being along with that of the environment.
  • Develop a proactive response to climate change through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Increase returns on investment for Pearl Rated developments.
  • Reduce operational and maintenance costs.
  • Improve quality of life and enhance productivity.
  • Diversification of the economy to more sustainable sectors.
  • Create cohesive neighbourhoods with mosques, schools, clinics and shops within each community.
  • Encourage sustainability on all scales, such as community recycling, efficient use of landscaping and public transport.
  • Raise awareness and promote sustainable development and living.
  • Provide education and training for all ages on sustainable practices.
  • Revive Abu Dhabi’s tradition of achieving maximum benefit from minimal resources.
  • Maintain and promote Abu Dhabi’s unique identity and cultural heritage.
Estidama Pearl Rating Systems

Working as part of a Government-wide collaborative initiative to improve the lives of all citizens living in Abu Dhabi Emirate, the UPC is developing and implementing the Estidama Pearl Rating Systems (PRS). The PRS is a comprehensive framework for sustainable design, construction and operation of communities, buildings and villas that supports the social and cultural traditions and values of the Emirate.

The PRS is specifically tailored to the hot climate and arid environment of Abu Dhabi whilst also taking the unique culture of the Emirate into account. It encourages water, energy and waste minimisation, local material use and aims to improve supply chains for sustainable materials and products. It was developed and extensively tested through ‘pilot projects’ to ensure the future success of the scheme before launch.

The Pearl Rating Systems for Estidama comprises a Pearl Building Rating System (PBRS), a Pearl Community Rating System (PCRS) and a Pearl Villa Rating System (PVRS), which introduce rating practices for the design, construction and operation of development projects. The Systems provide a set of measurable guidelines, design guidance and detailed rating requirements. These assess the sustainability performance of communities, buildings and villas across Estidama’s four pillars of economy, environment, society and culture. Credits are received when requirements are met. As of September 2010, all new communities, buildings and villas in the Emirate must achieve a 1 Pearl Rating. Government funded projects must meet the 2 Pearl Rating. The maximum number of Pearls that can be awarded is 5.

The PBRS will apply to general buildings, offices, retail, multi-residential buildings, schools and mixed-use projects whereas the PCRS addresses developments supporting a minimum permanent residential population of 1,000 people. For developments designed to accommodate up to 30,000 people, the system asks for division into individual districts each requiring a separate application. Sustainable design, if integrated into the design process early will yield significant benefits that outweigh the initial design and construction costs. The benefits include better operational efficiencies, reduced operational and maintenance costs (such as cooling, lighting and water costs) healthier living and working environments, better quality and durability of the built environment and improved marketability. Over the entire lifecycle, sustainable building practices can be a more competitive option in the long-run, thereby meeting the needs of citizens as efficiency as possible.

The UPC supports the realisation of Estidama by ensuring sustainable practices, encompassing building and community design and development, are embedded into its planning policies, programmes and initiatives.

There are seven categories at the heart of the Pearl Rating System. Each focuses on a different type of impact a building project can have, from its design to its construction to its occupancy.

Integrated Development Process:

Encouraging cross-disciplinaryteamwork to deliver environmentaland quality management.

Natural Systems:

Conserving, preserving and restoring critical natural environments and habitats.

Livable Villas/Buildings/Community:

Ensuring quality of outdoor and indoor spaces.

Resourceful Energy:

Targeting energy conservation through passive design measures, energy efficiency and renewable sources.

Precious Water:

Reducing water demand and encouraging alternative water sources.

Stewarding Materials:

Ensuring consideration of the ‘whole-of life’ cycle when specifying and disposing of materials.

Innovating Practice:

Encouraging innovation and cultural expression in building design and construction to facilitate market and industry transformation.

The Pearl Rating Stages

There are two Pearl Rating stages for Villas, Buildings, and Communities: Design and Construction.

Pearl Design Rating

- The Design Rating rewards measures adopted during the design development of the project that meet the intent and requirements of each credit. The Design Rating recognizes the additional marketing value and branding a Pearl Rating will afford a villa in its early sale or lease phase. A Pearl Design Rating is valid only until construction is complete, and requires that all collateral, branding and communication materials identify the villa as a Pearl Design Rated project.

Pearl Construction Rating

- The Construction Rating ensures that the commitments made for the Design Rating have been achieved. All collateral, branding and communication materials identify the villa as a Pearl Construction Rated project.

Pearl Operational Rating (in progress)

– The operational rating assesses the built-in features and operational performance of an existing villa or building and ensures the project is operating sustainably. The operational rating can only be achieved a minimum of two years after construction completion.

2 Pearl Estidama Villa and Community Rating
Project Name:

Al Ain Ghareba

Project Type:

Residential Community for Emirati Families


Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council


Sorouh Real Estate


Ghareba - Shamal Al Shuaibah

Project Description:

Sorouh is developinga residential community for Emirati families in Al Ain on a location approximately 10km west-south-west of Al Ain city centre. The site is south of the Al Maqam Palace District and is bordered on its southerly side by the Al Ain Wadi separating it from Al Shaabeya District to the south. The community will have 600 villas and related community facilities.In addition to the Contemporary and Mediterranean architecture styles the total plot area of 1,547,756 m2 million square metres will also include mosques, a school, a neighbourhood centre and a wide range of retail outlets, all of which will be designed to meet Estidama 2 Pearl Villa, Building and Community requirements and Plan Al Ain 2030.

Villa & Community Rating

The Emirati Community and all villas within it have been rated at Design stage as 2 Pearl and are well underway to maintain this rating during Construction. The graph below show the credit points targeted during Design and achieved during Construction, bearing in mind minimum 30 points are required to meet 2 Pearl Rating for villas and 55 points for communities.

PVRS 2 Pearl Rating

Achieving Estidama – Al Ain Ghareba
Estidama design elements of the 2 Pearl Villa within the Al Ain Gharebaproject
  • The natural ventilation capacity was increased25% above the baseline.
  • A temperature regulator (thermostat) was installed in each living area and bedroom to optimize the use of AC, improve comfort, and reduce energy consumption;
  • Increased use of natural daylight. Half on more of the floor area can rely on daylight during the day;
  • A reduction of 30% over the baseline of the water usage was achieved by the use of low water flow taps and fixtures.
  • The energy performance was improved. A reduction of 20% over the baseline was achieved through the implementation of:
    • improved U-Values for various building components (Walls – Roof – Windows);
    • the implementation of better AC Systems; and
    • Solar water heating system, which is covering about 80% of the overall hot water requirement of the villa;
    Estidama construction elements of the villa
    • Indoor air quality will be healthier, as all interior adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings will contain low levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
    • All insulation materials will not have any ODP (Ozone Depleting Potential) and low GWP (Global Warming Potential);
    • The following will contain chlorine free materials: Doors; Windows; Waterproofing; and Roof & Walls insulation.
    • 20% of all construction material will be procured regionally (within 500km) (Concrete – Backfill – Insulated Block – Ceramic Tiles and some paints).
    • A 4th garbage bin was considered in each villa to collect composting materials.
    • Over 50% of the construction waste will be sent for recycling.
Other Estidama value added elements for the Al Ain Ghareba community
  • All villas are located in a 2 Pearl Rated Community;
  • About 6 valuable Ghaff trees were found on site and will be protected;
  • Each villa is located within a maximum walking distance of 350 m to parks and community facilities;
  • Public open spaces, pedestrian and walkways are properly shaded to promote walking and cycling and to encourage social interaction and public health;
  • Bicycle racks were installed in each villa to encourage the use of bicycles, reduce the reliance on cars and improve public health;
  • Landscaping of the public realm will use verylow irrigation rates and will be irrigated with TSE water.
Ensuring compliance:

A Pearl Villa follows the same key design and construction stages as a conventional Villa. The introduction of the 2 Pearl performance criteria requires Consultants and Contractors to consider a number of basic sustainability issues.

Space Planning

The Consultant must preserve valuable fauna and flora species (e.g. Ghaff trees)

The Consultant is encouraged to shape building form to respond to the site’s natural characteristics (solar orientation, exposure to wind, topography and hydrology) The Consultant must accommodate an external waste room designed to meet access, sizing, security and hygiene criteria set in the PVRS.

Facade Design

The Consultant must size windows and distribute glazing in a way to balance: (1) access to daylight, (2) provision of ventilation and (3) reduction of solar heat gain. The Consultant must detail the sections of walls, roofs andwindows to meet the thermal performance (u-value) criteria in the PVRS. Use sections from the Estidama Villa Products Database or test the proposed sections using the U-Value Calculator.

System detailing & Sizing

The Consultant must size and specify HVAC systems to meet the cooling and ventilation loads criteria in the PVRS.

The Consultant must design artificial lighting to meet the minimum lighting densities (watts per m2) criteria in the PVRS.

Material Selection

The Consultant must select building materials and systems that can significantly reduce Energy and Water use in the Villa: Insulation products, Air Conditioning Systems, Windows, Water fixtures, and Solar HotWater Systems.

The Contractor must procure products and systems in compliance with the drawings and specifications of the design.

When submitting alternatives, select pre-confirmed products from the Estidama Villa Products Database or use the appropriate calculators (U-Value Calculator, Water Calculator) and undertake your own product research to show compliance.


The Contractor must preserve valuable fauna and flora species (e.g. Ghaff trees)

The Contractor must not use any hazardous materials such as asbestos and CCA-treated timber.

The Contractor must recycle construction and demolition waste and divert a minimum of 30% of waste –by weight or volume- from landfill.

The Consultant and Contractor must jointly verify the integrity of envelope and systems installed.

Estidama Villa Product Database:

The Estidama Villa Products Database (EVPD) was developed in order to provide marketplace information on technically compliant products and was created to assist villa owners, consultants, contractors, assessors and other relevant stakeholders in successfully implementing the PVRS. Listing products within the EVPD is voluntary, and is open to manufacturers and distributors of the following product categories:

  • Water Fixtures and Fittings;
  • Insulation Products and Systems;
  • Windows and Glazing;
  • Air Conditioning Equipment; and
  • Solar Hot Water Systems.

The database provides consultants, owners and developers with technically compliant materials that are pre-approved by the Estidama technical team. It clearly provides an added value that can be measured through:

  • Cost monitoring through multiple suppliers;
  • Shorter assessment approval periods, due to pre-approval of products; and
  • Additional supplier availability providing greater level of customer choice.
Benefits of Estidama

Estidama and the Pearl Villa Rating System will bring many benefits, both to individual families and to Abu Dhabi as a whole.

Healthier, more comfortable homes

The inside of Estidama villas will be more comfortable and healthy. Air quality will be improved, with more fresh air, less pollution from indoor materials, and better air filtration. Temperature controls will be more responsive to individual preferences, while sensors will allow occupants to track higher quality daylight, with less glare, and more responsive artificial lighting. The outside of Estidama villas will include comfortable, well shaded areas to sit and walk.

Reduced pollution

Estidama villas will pollute less. Materials hazardous to the local environment are prohibited, which will protect children from exposure to toxins. Refrigerants that deplete the atmospheric ozone layer are restricted, and by using less energy and water, Estidama villas will be associated with less use of fossil fuels. This means less regional air pollution from power plants and lower emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. Villas that pursue optional credits will also avoid materials that are particularly polluting to manufacture and transport.

Resource efficiency

With better design and building systems, Estidama villas will be more resource efficient. Because residents will not have to use as much electricity and water, they will pay lower utility bills. They will also reduce the waste of precious resources, such as water, which in a desert like Abu Dhabi must be desalinated from the sea using a great quantity of fossil fuel energy. Efficiency will put less strain on the Emirate’s infrastructure, reducing the need for expensive new power plants and desalination facilities, as well as wastewater treatment plants. From a building materials perspective, villas constructed out of more local and recycled raw materials will be associated with less manufacturing and transportation energy.

Better neighbourhoods

Estidama villas built within an Estidama Community will be placed in a walkable and complete sustainable community, with shaded walkways to community facilities and water-efficient parks.

Villa Development Process

The following is a list of actions you should consider at different stages of the villa development process.

Step 1: Organise Team and Work

Establish a sustainability vision, ensure that your consultant informs the project team members andschedules collaborative workshops.

Consider meeting more than the minimum Estidama requirements. Pursue a 2, 3, 4, or 5 Pearl Rating if you can. Even if you don't, let the team know sustainability is important to you. Make sure to involve all members of the design team (e.g. the architect and engineers) at an early stage, and include the contractor if possible. This will improve creativity and coordination between the design stage and construction stage, helping you achieve your sustainability goals.

Step 2: Understand Site Context

Assess the natural and urban systems surrounding the future villa.

If your site includes existing trees or vegetation, instruct the architect to plan around these to the extent possible.

Understand your plot & orientation to the sun when considering the shape, location & number of windows to be in your villa.

Step 3: Design Outdoor Spaces

Lay out the villa's orientation, footprint, landscaping area, access routes, and shading. Encourage the consultant and architect to lay out the site to optimize energy efficiency, water efficiency, natural ventilation, and outdoor shading. If you have any personal requirements for the site, ask the design team to consider how these can be achieved without conflicting with this site optimization.

Step 4: Design Indoor Spaces

Lay out the internal rooms and windows of the villa. Encourage the design team to design windows that balance day-lighting against direct sunlight and heat gain. Ask them to consider the use of natural ventilation during cooler times of year (such as by using operable windows at night); and make sure that walls, floors, roofs, and windows are built with well insulated materials. If you have any personal requirements for design and finishing, ask the design team to consider how these can be achieved without conflicting with the building's energy efficiency.

Step 5: Design Building Systems

Develop the villa's cooling, ventilation, lighting, water distribution, and metering systems.

Make sure that you select low-flow water fixtures, energy efficient lights (e.g. compact fluorescent) and energy efficient appliances. The suppliers should be able to provide flow rates for water faucets and fittings and energy certifications for appliances. Your consultant should be able to explain the options on the market.

As the water and energy metering systems are being designed, check with the design team to make sure the meters are located conveniently, so that you will actually track your water and energy usage.

Make sure with your consultant that the required solar hot water system has been incorporated, and discuss using solar panels for electricity as well. Let the design team know if you want the option of adding a solar electric system in the future.

Step 6: Build Villa

Prepare the site and construct the villa.

Make sure that your contractor is integrated with the design process and understands that there are Estidama requirements for both demolition and construction waste management. When you visit the construction site, make sure there are clear and tidy areas for sorting construction waste for recycling.

Step 7: Verify Performance

Ensure that building systems are well integrated and properly functioning.

During this stage, the design team should prepare an Occupant Handbook for you. This will explain how the building systems work and how you can operate your villa to maximize its performance (e.g. how to optimize smart controls and when to maintain equipment). Make sure you understand this Handbook and can ask questions while the design team is still engaged on the project.

An integrated development team

The Integrated Development Process (IDP) aims to foster creativity and coordination in the project design and development. Therefore, an IDP should involve all members of project team, especially the client/owner or financial decision maker.

A villa project team in its simplest form will be comprised of an Owner, an Architect, an Engineer and a Contractor. Typically the Contractor will be responsible for all subcontractors. Specialists may also be brought onboard to undertake specialised work in areas such as sustainability, landscape architecture, interior design, ecology or energy modelling.

The project team should consider several points as it organizes its work:

  • Each member of the team should become familiar with Estidama and the One-Pearl requirements under the Villa Rating System. This is available on the Estidama website (
  • The IDP process should be coordinated by a member of the design team who has been certified as a Pearl Villa Rating System Professional. It is not necessary that this person be a dedicated sustainability consultant. They could be any member of the design team who has received the villa certification. More information about this certification is available about this at
  • Every member of the project team should contribute to the design. In order to develop more integrative ideas, team members should consider themselves collaborators in the design, even before the Architect even puts pen to paper. Although the Contractor is typically involved later in the process, they should be involved as early as possible.
Estidama Training Programme and Outreach

The Executive Council, when mandating the Estidama Pearl Rating System, requested a training and public awareness campaign to multiple audiences. The UPC-Estidama team commenced the delivery of a comprehensive training and education program for the Estidama Pearl Rating System on August 15th 2010 and to date over 5,000 delegates have attended an Estidama Training session.

Currently, Estidama training sessions are being delivered by UPC staff and are conducted, free of charge, at the Urban Planning Council (UPC), 7th Floor Auditorium, Al Mamoura B Building. Table below provides an overview of the training sessions currently on offer and the target audience.


Target Audience

Understanding Estidama & the PRS Construction Industry Professionals
Understanding the EVPD for Consultants Consultants & Contractors
PBRS: 1 Pearl Workshop Construction Industry Professionals involved in the delivery of Estidama PBRS projects
Construction Rating Audit Training° PQPs, Consultants & Contractors
Estidama Developers Forum

In February 2012, as part of its commitment towards participatory planning and the priority given to maintaining a comprehensive and continual dialogue with the development industry in the Emirate, the UPC organised the first Estidama Developers’ Forum.

The Estidama Developers Forum was attended by key executives representing the Emirates’ development industry. The Forum included a presentation on the progression and milestones, the findings after the first effective year of applying the Estidama Pearl Rating Systems (PRS) as well as the initiatives in the pipeline for Estidama over the next 12 months. The Developers Forum highlights the relationships the Estidama Team is continually building with its stakeholders. The PRS has provided developers with a suite of tools that are implementing the core principles of sustainable development and the increasing number of developments attaining Estidama Compliance Status is proof that the industry is an active proponent of the UPC’s Estidama PRS programme and a true partner in the principles of sustainability.

This Forum embodies the UPC’s well-defined and carefully-crafted approach of having a two-way communication channel with all stakeholders to present them with its plans, initiatives and programmes whilst gaining their feedback and suggestions to be further studied and incorporated.

Stakeholder-engaging activities are instrumental tools to help the UPC gain genuine insights on how developments and facilities should be orchestrated to achieve Vision 2030 objectives. As one of the UPC’s key stakeholders, developers play a pivotal role in the successful implementation of Estidama and will ensure that the UPC continually embraces the rapidly evolving concepts for sustainable urban development while grounding them in the economic, environmental, social and cultural needs of the Emirate.

E-Villa Configurator

The ‘E-Villa Configurator’, a bespoke new awareness tool for villa owners and developers aiming to comply with Estidama’s One Pearl Rating System, was launched in January 2012 to support villa owners in achieving the mandatory rating for all private villa developments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Configured to operate across multiple platforms and applications such as the Ipad, the internet, and also on DVD, the E-Villa Configurator encompasses the six categories of the Estidama One Pearl Rating (PRS): Integrated Design Process (IDP), Natural Systems, Liveable Villas, Precious Water, Resourceful Energy, and Stewarding Materials.

By clicking on any of the categories, users are able to see how its will be reflected on the final look and feel of the villa and what benefits will be gained, especially with regards to water and energy. The E-Villa Configurator highlights what villa owners need to do in order to achieve the mandatory One Pearl villa, along with the benefits of achieving a 1 Pearl.

The E-Villa Configurator is available on the UPC website, iPad application and also on a complimentary DVD which comes with the Villa Manual.

Complete Sustainable Communities (CSC)

Planning for Complete Sustainable Communities - communities which meet the needs of today’s residents, yet are flexible enough to meet the changing needs of future generations - has always been a core objective for the UPC as part of Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Vision 2030. To meet this objective, the UPC has created a suite of planning policies, regulations and guidelines which complement each other and equally support the creation of new communities, the completion of existing communities and the revitalisation of established communities, to ensure everyone lives in a vibrant, high-quality community that reflects the values and culture of the Emirate.

Complete Sustainable Communities address the four pillars of Estidama – environment, social, cultural and economic. This requires consideration of issues such as increased mobility and access to community facilities and connectivity and comfort of the outdoors to encourage increased pedestrian activity. Creating Complete Sustainable Communities is therefore of benefit to all people in Abu Dhabi.

There are a series of overarching principles that support the planning of Complete Sustainable Communities:

  • Safe, secure, comfortable, varied and attractive - vibrant places that offer variety and choice and have a range of community facilities, both now and in the future, including:
  • High-quality mosques that are accessible for all worshippers;
  • A range of community facilities that are in line with the needs and size of the population; and
  • A number of parks, open spaces and plazas to exercise, walk, meet and relax in.
Well-integrated, both physically and visually, with their surroundings, and use the existing resources, climate and natural setting, including;
  • Orientating the community for maximum shading and natural cooling; and
  • Using native, drought resistant planting in landscaped areas.
Enjoyable and convenient places that integrate a mix of uses and forms to meet a variety of demands for the widest possible range of users, including;
  • Arrange of high-quality, sustainable housing options to meet the differing needs of the population; and
  • A mix of community facilities that meet the needs of differing nationalities, ages and abilities.
Well-connected to support movement between homes and community facilities;
  • Support walking and cycling through shaded pedestrian pathways, known as sikkak, and cycle routes; and
  • Provide accessible public transportation options to encourage walking and reduce reliance on cars.
  • Economically viable, well-managed and maintained and flexible enough to respond to change at the villa, building and community levels, including;
  • Villas that are designed to be flexible are designed to comfortably accommodate the growth of extended families;
  • A mix of types and sizes of homes to meet varying income levels; and
  • Substantial savings in energy and water usage through the development of Estidama Pearl rated Villas, Buildings and Communities.
In-keeping with the culture, climate and heritage at a community and Emirate-wide level, including;
  • High-quality and inspiring vernacular architecture;
  • Public art installations which reflect the community’s identity; and
  • Areas for public gathering and performances.
The design of Complete Sustainable Communities incorporates the principles of the UPC’s suite of policies and guidance manuals, namely:
  • Abu Dhabi Public Realm Design Manual
  • Abu Dhabi Urban Street Design Manual
  • Abu Dhabi Safety & Security Planning Manual
  • Estidama Pearl Rating Systems
  • Abu Dhabi Mosque Development Regulations
  • Neighbourhood Planning Brochure
The Principles of Complete Sustainable Communities

The Complete Sustainable Communities concept enables the UPC to encapsulate the constitutive components of best practice community planning and highlights the integrated, long-term strategy that is applied to addressing community requirements. Subsequently, when communities are physically developed using this approach, along with incorporating the specific needs of local residents through community engagement programmers, there is a tangible increase in the quality of life for residents and improved sustainability, thereby supporting the achievement of Vision 2030 – the ultimate goal for the UPC.

The UPC, as part of its UAE National Housing projects is building 13,000 villas for UAE Nationals over the coming years. The Estidama team is working with developers to build villas that meet the requirements for a 2 Pearl Rating, with a focus on energy and water savings including landscaping efficiencies. A key element of the project, located across Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia, is the building of a number of show villas which are currently in development / being constructed that will be open to the general public. These villas will enable visitors to see first-hand the requirements of the Pearl Rating System and the benefits of achieving a 2 Pearl Rating.

Sustainable Communities in Action