Dubai is looking for private investors to support the development of land above the Union metro station in Deira, located in the heart of old Dubai.

The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) and its financial and technical advisers, the UK’s EY and Atkins, presented the initial designs to prospective investors on 11 December.

The project is intended to encourage more people to use the metro and fulfil the RTA’s goal of increasing the usage of public transport to 30 per cent by 2030. Encouraging public transport use is essential to reduce congestion in the emirate.

However, the scheme’s success will depend on the RTA selecting the right kind of investor who will build the most attractive development mix, combining office space, residential complexes and restaurants. This will regenerate the surrounding neighbourhoods and make it easier for people to access transport links.

A Transit Oriented Development aims to maximise areas surrounding public transport hubs

During the feasibility study phase, the project has been specifically modelled as a Transit Oriented Development (TOD), a concept that aims to maximise areas surrounding transport hubs to encourage increased usage of nearby trains, metros and buses. The early designs presented to investors depict shaded, tree-lined walkways, cycle routes and open plazas to make it more pleasant to access transport links. 

The TOD concept is something prospective developers must adhere to, according to presentations made during the investor roadshow, although the “development mix is open to interpretation”, said Umer Ahmad, project director at EY.

Dubai’s metro only opened in 2009 and between 2010 and 2013, the annual number of passengers increased from 39 million to 137 million. However, roads remain heavily congested. The success of projects such as Union Oasis can be used to tackle this problem.