Home Articles UAE – Urban Planning Council: Enterprise GIS for urban growth

UAE – Urban Planning Council: Enterprise GIS for urban growth

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) was created by Emiri Decree in 2007 to manage Abu Dhabi’s urban growth. Part of the UPC’s mandate is to ensure public and private land and infrastructure development proposals.

The vision of UPC is to make Abu Dhabi prosper as an attractive, livable place that preserves the emirate’s unique culture and environment. UPC produces plans and development regulations that govern Abu Dhabi’s physical environment. The Council manages the emirate’s urban growth through efficient development review and proactive facilitation of implementation in coordination with public and private sector partners.

The government of Abu Dhabi has committed itself to strengthen and develop four key priority areas: economic development, social and human resources development, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability, optimisation of government operations.

The UPC has developed the Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan to optimise the city’s development through a 25-year programme of urban evolution The vision is built on a comprehensive analysis of the urban fabric, land availability and its best use, environmental issues, mobility, infrastructure and urban services that need to be integrated in Abu Dhabi’s development strategy.

With the recent recognition as one of the top 10 sustainable cities of the future by the Ethisphere Institute, Abu Dhabi is on the right path in transforming itself into the sustainable capital of the Arab world.

To meet this challenge, UPC has developed a political vision that focuses on cutting-edge urban design, protecting cultural assets, fostering Arab/Muslimbased communities and engendering interaction between citizens and their built environment.


Naeema Al Zarouni
GIS Manager
GIS initiatives in UPC
At UPC, we are defining the shape of the emirate, ensuring factors such as sustainability, infrastructure capacity, new transport infrastructures, community planning and quality of life, by overseeing development across the city and the emirate as a whole. We start with plan framework, regional concept plans, and go into furthermore detailed level of planning. UPC is coordinating these strategic plans with government agencies responsible for the implementation phases such as municipalities and Department of Transportation and Environment Agency. In that process, GIS department is liaising on a regular basis with the municipalities and other concerned agencies to make sure that these plans are shared timely and organisations study their feasibility prior to the initiation of any implementation. It’s one of our key responsibilities to make sure that these data are as accurate as possible to ensure planning decisions.

Enterprise GIS
We have created enterprise GIS system that is been used by different departments within UPC such as Planning and Policy Department, Development Review, Estidama (sustainable initiative) and Corporate Communications to integrate all data inputs from different resources for efficient planning and decision making. We have provided them with online tool called GeoPlanner (a web based GIS solution). UPC staff is now able to view, query, identify and edit their data. It provides our planners with the requested easy access to spatial and non spatial data on time and in a cost effective way. We also provide planners and decision makers with spatial analysis support such as demographic analysis, traffic impact and accessibility tools to support decision making.

Implementation of master plan
All our master plans should be implemented by the municipalities and other concerned government agencies. UPC is now creating workforce with all other agencies to make sure that the master plans and vision 2030 are implemented and GIS plays a big role in the coordination efforts in terms of data sharing and standardisation. GIS is the data channel to make sure that other agencies are also going to implement those plans and are aware of what’s happening and what’s coming. Different data layers have been incorporated in 2030 plan such as land use data layer, proposed transportation, proposed projects and facilities, development code layer which includes attributes that is related to each geographic area in the master plan.

Uptake of technology
We are working on MDSS project with levels of acceptance that varies from one stakeholder to the other based on their level of GIS capabilities. Some are totally new to the GIS system. Our strategy to tackle this challenge is to first make them involved from the start of the process and to demonstrate – step by step – all the benefits that all parties involved will get out of it by making their daily life more efficient. To get the expected results, a perfect coordination is requested from the beginning between all stakeholders. First step is to analyse the situation and conduct pre-assessment of what exists and how to coordinate these efforts in a more effective way.

Private partnerships
At UPC, we deal and partner directly with private sector as we are reviewing all of their development projects and making sure that they are complying with Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 vision and related framework. In this context, GIS is providing insights to the spatial distribution of these developments and assert their planning affects from different prospective. GIS section has developed standards and data specifications that have been distributed to private developers. It also helps them to better understand our overall strategic goals and adhere to our standards and best practices.