If somewhere like Yas Island is exactly what you’d expect in a place built on petroleum and in which the motor car is king, Masdar City is a complete surprise: the kernel of a brand-new zero-carbon, zero-waste green city, car-free and entirely self-sufficient in energy (using solar power and other renewable sources). Constructed at a cost of US$20 billion, the “city” (although it’s actually more of a suburb), around 30km from the centre of Abu Dhabi and close to the airport, is eventually intended to cover around six square kilometres, providing a home to around 50,000 residents and 1500 businesses. The whole project was rather knocked back by the credit crunch and isn’t now expected to get finished until 2025, but the small section so far completed is well worth a visit, and offers a tantalizing glimpse of what the 22nd-century city might just conceivably look like.

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