What to expect out of Dubai as a 20-minute city

What to expect out of Dubai as a 20-minute city

Op-ed by Hisham Al Gurg, CEO, Seed Group and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum


“For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.” I was reminded of this quote by bestselling author Simon Van Booy when I learned about the projected goals for the second phase of the Dubai 2040 Master Plan. 

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve had a chance to travel across all corners of the world. I have visited almost every big metropolitan on both the far east and west ends of the world and have realized that there are a number of factors other than modern infrastructure that make cities more than mere urban spaces and turn them into a feeling called “home.”

Anyone who’s ever been interested in architecture is familiar with Le Corbusier. The French architect’s work is among the best in the world. Some of his most commendable works can be seen across Europe, while his only and last designed city, Chandigarh, is located in India. 

So, what made Corbusier stand out was the fact that his designs and urban planning strategies were not just created to be functional but also to produce emotions. His designs combined functionalism with bold sculptural expressionism, which is intended to evoke emotions and promote happy living. One thing I have come to understand about urban planning is that it does not need to be seen as a prognosis of the potential of architecture but as a multidisciplinary process. 

With all this in context, Dubai revealed its 2040 Master Plan in 2021. As part of this plan, the authorities decided to dedicate the next two decades to giving shape to some ambitious strategies, including an extension of public beach spaces and nature reserves. 

The second phase of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan was approved last month by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and per the plan, the emirate will become a 20-minute city. 

The second phase takes the ambitions of the Master Plan further. Of all the other developments planned, one that is being talked about the most is making Dubai a 20-minute city. The idea is for city dwellers to be able to walk or bike to 80 percent of their daily needs and destinations in just 20 minutes. This means that in the coming years, half of Dubai’s population will be living within 800 meters of the nearest public transportation facility. 

This goal will have a much deeper impact on people, the community, and the city as a whole. Slashing the commute time not only saves hours and minutes, but in the long run, it opens up windows for people to be with the ones who matter, do things that they love, and hence have a happy, fulfilling life. And that’s what the ultimate overarching aim of this Master Plan is—to make Dubai the best city to live in. Making Dubai a 20-minute city is a big step towards this goal, and that is why this step is an applaudable move by the leaders and authorities of Dubai. 

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