How has the vision of Masdar City evolved from the initial 2007 concept to today?
MALLOWS: I think what's very exciting about Masdar City, is that when the concept of Masdar City was originally conceived, there was a high priority on environmental sustainability. And in the eight years since that inception, the concept of sustainability has evolved into a far more comprehensive understanding, not only of environmental sustainability but also social and economic sustainability.
What we've done since the inception, and this is a transformation to the concept, is that we now work with third-party investors in the development of Masdar City, just as any other city would grow, but they work within sustainability guidelines that we've outlined.
What has been the market reaction to Masdar City’s Free Zone? What types of businesses and industries are you trying to attract?
ALAWADHI: We're trying to find international companies to come on board. We're looking for green companies, companies that encompass the whole Masdar concept, to try and put renewable energies on the forefront of their agenda. So to us it's very, very important that any company that comes on board with us, is following the ethos of Masdar City and the whole green concept.
In ways have market forces shaped the face of Masdar City?
MALLOWS: The vision for Masdar City remains the same as from its inception. However, changes in technology and changes in development strategy, have allowed us to transform the original spatial vision into a far more comprehensive and development-oriented idea without sacrificing any of the original sustainability objectives. So we have not only a greenprint for how the city should be developed in the future, but also very, very responsive to market forces, and changes in technology.
At the beginning of the year, Masdar City’s population was approximately 1,000 people and 100 companies. What are your growth projections going forward?
ALAWADHI: Currently we have around 24 retails that are opening up and a lot of them will be opening up within this summer. We have a Siemens building which is a LEED Platinum building out there, which is the first in Abu Dhabi. We also have the Incubator Building which houses SMEs to large multinational corporations.
We also have the HQ, which is going to be the headquarters of IRENA, along with the headquarters of Masdar. So if you were to ask the question on the growth of Masdar, I would say it's been phenomenal and we're going to be taking this idea forward into the 2030 plan of Abu Dhabi.
How is Masdar City balancing environmental sustainability with economic viability?
MALLOWS: Economically, it's important that cities are built not only by governments and certain high net worth individuals; that cities are an open process where everybody can participate in the economic benefits of the city. So it's not only developers and governments who are participating in the building of the Masdar City. It's private individuals, it's for-profit corporations, and global tech companies who want to locate in Masdar City, and be part of this sustainable paradigm.
We look at a greenprint for urban development both in terms of environmental, economic, and social, and we do not emphasise one aspect of sustainability over the other. So it's a balance. But our main focus is to in fact increase productivity, work-live-play environments, while minimising the consumption of energy and minimizing the impact on the environment.
What types of facilities are available for potential investors and businesses considering relocating to Masdar City?
ALAWADHI: The type of facilities that we have here at Masdar are unique. One, we're a free zone; two, an investment zone. Many will come to us and say, well it's very similar to others that you have out there. I always say, we're unique. Masdar City sets an example for the world.
I would love to invite all the potential investors to come to Masdar to see it, to be a part of the dream, to live what the idea of green technology is, to come and be a part of a smart city, and leave your legacy with us and the world as well. We're in this journey together.