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Floods prompt Abu Dhabi to issue urban planning tender

Residents use kayaks to evacuate their flooded residential complex in Dubai following the April storm Reuters/Amr Alfiky
Residents use kayaks to evacuate their flooded residential complex in Dubai following the April storm
  • UAE president ordered urgent review
  • Study to develop infrastructure
  • April floods paralysed country

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport has issued a tender for studies to aid the city’s urban planning efforts, including infrastructure resilience during storms.

The tender for consultancy services opened last month and closes on July 4.

It emerges after UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered an urgent review of the country’s infrastructure following historic levels of rainfall in April.

The president told authorities “to quickly work on studying the condition of infrastructure throughout the UAE,” state-owned Wam news agency reported.

The Abu Dhabi government contract lists requirements for a wide array of services to support the preparation and development of various master plans.

Among these are flood risk assessment and management, as well as studies for integrated storm water management and water resource management.

Such components are considered vital for developing sustainable urban infrastructure capable of withstanding extreme weather events like the recent floods.

Other requirements include preparation of all stages of a master plan, such as setting out the vision and building a framework, along with engineering analyses, feasibility assessments and comprehensive project designs. 

The tender also highlights transportation planning, surveying and geotechnical investigations – which is centred around the branch of civil engineering to do with rocks and soil.

In mid-April, the UAE experienced its heaviest rains for 75 years

The downpour turned main roads into waterways, particularly in Dubai, leaving motorists stranded and vehicles submerged.

The floods also disrupted flights at Dubai International Airport, Dubai metro trains, and severely damaged homes in various villa communities, as well as some apartments.

Erin Grover, a Dubai-based advisor on emerging technologies for climate impact, wrote that the recent flooding underscores the urgent need for immediate implementation of storm resilience systems.

“We cannot afford to wait while communities continue to endure the devastating consequences of such events,” she said.

“The time to act is now, especially with the looming threat of climate change increasing in the years to come. Delaying action only amplifies the risks and costs associated with future disasters.”

The UAE has set AED2 billion ($545 million) aside to pay for and rebuild flood-damaged homes, in addition to announcing an AED80 billion drainage system as part of Dubai Economic Agenda D33.

A stormwater drainage systems engineer in Dubai, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AGBI in April: “Our systems have been designed for storms but no system – anywhere in the world – is designed for very severe events of high intensity and devastation.

“It’s a balance between risk and investment. We may see some new tenders as systems will continue to be upgraded but, even then, they cannot prevent flooding in such cases. An improved system would cause less flooding.”

Andrew Pershing, vice president of science at Climate Central in the US, said the research group has observed “strong warming” in the Middle East.

“Nothing about this is normal,” he said. “This year eventually will start to look like an average year.”

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