Urbanization of United Arab Emirates


The United Arab Emirates has experienced tremendous growth characterized by huge structural and infrastructural development over the past decade. The focus of the nation is the creation and expansion of its cities to urban centers with ultra-modern facilities targeting the center of the globe’s divinity. The nation’s urbanization agenda has turned its main city, Dubai, into a global commercial, tourism, extreme sports, and residential hub. Dubai’s offshore environment is developed on artificial islands and baselines such as Palm Deira, Palm Jumeirah, and the World Islands as the iconic landmarks of the city’s development. In recent times, Dubai has also been embodied as a festival, internet, healthcare, and media city that seeks to attract people from all over the world. Some authors and scholars have studied and reviewed urbanization of Dubai as primary and secondary discipline thereby providing sufficient information on the city’s development. As a result, this study seeks to synthesize such studies to examine the urbanization of Dubai.


The identified sources look at the urbanization of UAE. Gardner & Howarth (2009) look at the urbanization of Dubai by discussing mitigation options proposed and implemented by EIA to help plan the development of the UAE and other nations. The study looks at various mitigation strategies as developmental plans of the UAE such as the Fauna and Flora Translocation strategy. According to Gardner & Howarth (2009), Dubai is built on the foundation of biodiversity and habitual reclamation of the environment. Thus, mitigation involved the translocation of animals and plant species from the development areas to new serenities. Other strategic observations made by the city’s developers are topsoil storage and land restoration, creation of wildlife corridors, onsite mitigation, and off-site mitigation. Raouf (2018) recounts the same view on the development of UAE cities. The author crafts his analysis from Aristotle’s definition of an ideal city, which should be a source of happiness rather than just providing shelter and protecting its residents (Sbia & Shahbaz, 2013). As such, the idea behind cities such as Dubai has been a “sustainable and happy city.” The philosophy is rooted in the developmental structure of UAE cities that become global leaders in sustainable development. The application of the Aristotle philosophy in the development of the cities is evident in the naming of one Dubai streets as “Happiness Street.” As such, Dubai is a targeted global happiness city and a sustainability leader (Ramadan, 2015).

Gutman & NASA (2009) look at the urbanization of the UAE in terms of land use. The institute of the land survey assesses the development of the UAE through its land cover change. The report argues that Dubai has experienced a drastic land cover change than any other place on earth. The making of the 300 km human-made coastline, expansion of Dubai’s land cover, and strategic focus and identification of the nation’s development make UAE the fastest growing place on earth. The report also includes a projected population growth of the UAE cities such as Dubai whose structural attraction encourages skilled labor and destiny dwellers to be part of it. The report’s view is shared by another survey by Plecher (2019). The survey uses data to attest to the urbanization of UAE from 2007 to 2017. The statistics show tremendous growth of the UAE cities, which has been facilitated by migration to urban areas. According to the report, nearly 86.25% of UAE’s population lives in urban areas and is expected to grow spontaneously over the years. Bawaliz (2018) also believes in the developmental dream of UAE. The author argues that the future of the UAE is brighter with the creation of more efficient energy sources and sustainable usage. The author believes that the robust growth of the city is boosted by its population needs. The position necessitates the author’s proposal for a more efficient source of energy that can reduce emissions by approximately 40%. Borrowing information from the United Nations, the author projects a 90% population growth by 2050 (Elessawy, 2017). The growth will upsurge the nation’s energy demand and the need to plan for control of global warming and other pollution effects caused by high emissions, industrialization, and capitalistic urbanization.

There are instances of empirical differences between the sources discussed. Though based on the same topic, the authors and researchers have used various viewpoints as underscored by their findings. Gutman & NASA (2009) take a statistical approach in examining the urbanization of UAE while the institute of scientific research, NASA, study looks at the verifiable data used to gauge and explain the development of Dubai in the last few decades. Such an approach gives wider views of the urbanizations’ effect on upcoming cities through the numerical justification of their growth. The approach is replicated by Plecher (2019), who undertakes a similar survey to study the development of UAE between 2007 and 2017. The ten-year analysis tries to explain the urban development scores of UAE. The study defines its findings using data as proof of the assumed development of UAE cities. The statistical approach gives a stronger definition of study variables since its findings and assumptions are tested and their differences quantified. However, the numerical or statistical study method requires strict adherence to given study procedures. The findings must be accurate and precise to measure the situational change in UAE’s urbanization. Thus, the interpretation of such information requires symmetrical and consistent data gathering and interpretation to give the correct result desired.

Majority of the remaining sources are qualitative, which allows a wider exponential definition of study variables. The approach provides a broader examination of the region’s’ urbanization as indicated by Gardner & Howarth (2009), Bawaliz (2018), (Sbia & Shahbaz, 2013), Ramadan, (2015), Depew (1991), Raouf (2018), Solmsen (1964), and Kraut (1996).. Unlike the statistical reports that test variable’s value change, the theoretical sources explain the cause and impact of the changes. The sources have underscored the need to define various variables and differentiate concepts. The approach creates a referential correlation between ongoing studies and past research. For instance, by referring to Aristotle’s ideal state philosophy, Depew (1991), Raouf (2018), Solmsen (1964), and Kraut (1996) help understand the motive and theories that enhanced the urbanization of UAE. The sources give a wider understanding of the causes, impacts, and future development of UAE cities. Thus, the differences in the sources are an unlikely strength to the synthesis research.

All the sources expand the understanding of the urban development plans of the UAE. They all look at the growth effect and futuristic preview of cities such as Dubai. The deterministic preview of the sources creates a focus on the urbanization objectives, process, and effects on the cities. Such views are not new but confirm the parenthesis of the underneath study. Moreover, scholars such as Gardner & Howarth (2009) have taken the long but necessary step to digest the urbanization effect of Dubai across the globe. The position remains consistent across all other sources considering the strategic development of the cities. The growth is supported by philosophies and thoughts that define the developmental agenda of the UAE, for example, the creation of cities that promote and protect fauna and flora (Gardner & Howarth, 2009). The view is philosophically supported by Aristotle’s view of a city of happiness. According to Depew (1991), Raouf (2018), Solmsen (1964), and Kraut (1996), Aristotle defined an ideal city as a state that provides happiness in the exception of basic utilities such as shelter, transport, health, and education. Thus, the urbanization of Dubai and other UAE cities as global leisure destinations confirms this philosophical theory.

The urbanization of UAE is also supported by other empirical theories that define the nations’ development and deterministic leadership that oversees its urban setups. The unique landscape urbanism theory informed the development of man-made land to accommodate Dubai’s expansion (Bolleter, 2015). According to Pinnington (2011), the development was supported by the nations’ transformational leadership and neoliberalism theory (Buckley, 2013) and the developmental paradigm under the transactional theory that targeted the commercialization of the UAE to become the world’s alternate commercial hub (Randeree & Chaudhry, 2007).


The sources provide a sound foundation to understand the urbanization agenda of UAE. The majority of the cities were created based on various developmental theories and strategies that have worked in their favor, for example, the recreation of fauna and flora, deterministic leadership, and unionization. The sources have varied viewpoints on the nations’ urbanization. Their differences widen the scope of the analysis, which provided more information about the urbanization agenda.


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