Local developer International Capital Trading (ICT) is planning a major city in the Ghantoot area of Abu Dhabi, close to the Dubai border, which will cost tens of billions of dollars to develop.

The name of the project is not yet finalised, but its working title is Ghantoot Green City. The project is understood to cover 60 square kilometres.

The plans involve the construction of a city with a commercial centre, hotels, office blocks, residential developments, warehousing and light industrial areas.

Although population projections have not yet been revealed, the figure could be as high as 1 million if its population density is similar to other major cities being developed in the UAE.

The project is strategically located between new developments in Dubai, such as the Waterfront and Al-Maktoum Inter-national airport, and the new Khalifa Port & Industrial Zone that is under construction in the Taweelah area of Abu Dhabi emirate. It is also a commutable distance from Abu Dhabi International airport.

The project will support these developments by providing housing and leisure facilities for people working at the port, industrial areas and the airports. It will also provide employment opportunities in the development itself.

The development will be split into 12 phases, with the first covering 6.2 sq km. The total built-up area for phase one will be about 18.5 million square metres, and it is understood to include residential properties and hotels along the coast.

Although ICT will develop properties itself, about 10-15 plots are expected to be sold on to third-party developers.

Consultants are bidding for the infrastructure design package. The masterplan has been prepared by US-based RNL.

ICT is also working on a smaller project on Abu Dhabi island. Contractors have been invited to bid by 27 April for the main contract works for its Nation towers project on the corniche.

The prequalified contractors include the local/Lebanese Arabian Construction Company (ACC), the local Arabtec Construction, Saudi-based El-Seif Engineering Contracting Company and South Korea’s Samsung Corporation. The project involves the construction of a retail area, and towers for commercial and residential use. It will have a total built-up area of 310,000 sq m.

Germany’s Bauer is working on the enabling package. US-based Hill International is the project manager. The local office of KEO International Consultants is the architect of record and Toronto-based WMZH is the concept architect (MEED 28:9:07).

ICT is not the first Abu Dhabi-based developer to begin developing land close to the Dubai border. Sorouh Real Estate is already working on the Al-Ghadeer project at Saih As Sidirah, close to Ghantoot.

That mixed-use development covers an area of 3 million sq m and will include villas, townhouses and apartments. It will house 18,000 people.

A team of US-based Parsons International and the UK’s Mouchel Parkman has been appointed as the infrastructure consultant for the project.

The development close to the Dubai border will add further pressure on the infrastructure networks of the area.

More than 6 million people are expected to reside in the area between Jebel Ali port in Dubai and Khalifa Port & Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi by 2020.

On the Dubai side of the border, local developer Limitless is planning a population of 1.5 million for its various developments around the Arabian Canal, and Nakheel’s Waterfront project will provide homes for another 1.5 million people.

Dubai Industrial City is expected to provide accommodation for 500,000 people, and the Al-Maktoum International airport area is expected to sustain a substantial population.

Eventually, the projects planned between the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi will create a continuous belt of development along the coast between the two emirates, which will require substantial investment in infrastructure to ensure these developments are a success.

In 2007, Abu Dhabi launched the Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan to address its planning and infrastructure issues. Australia’s Urbis is working on the Dubai Urban Development Framework study that will provide a similar development model for Dubai.

Dealing with increasingly high levels of traffic is a key concern. The two emirates are understood to be working together on the inter-emirates rail network that will pass through northern areas of Abu Dhabi, such as Taweelah and Ghantoot, before connecting with the Dubai Metro system at the border and travelling north towards Sharjah.

Other major transportation projects will also serve the area, including the extension to the Emirates road.

This will run from the end of the existing highway at the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border, inland of the Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid road corridor, to serve Abu Dhabi International airport.