Masdar City was meant to be the world’s first carbon neutral city. Based in Abu Dhabi, its creators envisioned a glittering city in the desert, entirely self-powered, and after the initial building stage, having no net effect on the world’s carbon emissions.
But the plans have taken a major knock in the last 18 months. Lending for real estate dried up in the wake of the Dubai financial crisis, companies proved reluctant to move in to the new commercial space and the developers quickly realised their initial plans for the energy mix were too ambitious.
Earlier this month, the company confirmed it would cut up to $3.3bn from its budget after a 10-month strategy review. Last week, days after the results of the review were announced, I talked to the company’s CEO, Sultan al-Jaber, and the city’s director, Alan Frost, about their plans for the future.