Al Gharbia, an overview
Al Gharbia located in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, covers a staggering 60,000 square kilometers, which equates to 71% of the total land mass of the UAE. The region is home to seven main cities, Madinat Zayed, Ruwais, Ghayathi, Liwa, Mirfa and Sila’a, with the administration centre of the region being Madinat Zayed, named after His Highness, by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Al Gharbia, by location is closer to the borders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in comparison with the other in the UAE.
With impetus provided directly by the Crown Prince His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the past couple of years have seen the establishment of both Western Region Development Council (WRDC) and an independent Western Region Municipality. This has provided impetus to develop tourism with a sustainable plan under the aegis of the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) in order to capitalize on the area’s outstanding natural beauty. The life of the residents of the region also considerably eased, who earlier had to travel hundreds of kilometers for licenses, permits or other Government services, with the establishment of a local one-stop shop appropriately named TAMM.
Infrastructure and Demography Infrastructure
Al Gharbia was paid particular attention by the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who dedicated his efforts and time to develop the region and improve the quality of life for its inhabitants. The region has all service facilities and amenities such as hospitals, schools, commercial markets, industrial zones and recreational areas. Infrastructure such as power stations and water desalination plants were also put in place to service the needs of the region. Modern networks of roads are in place to connect all the seven cities of Al Gharbia.
Al Gharbia is characterized by a large geographic spread and low population density. Al Garbia hosts just over 100,000 individuals and the density is spread across the seven cities with the highest concentrations in Madinat Zayed, Liwa and Ruwais. Figure 1 indicates the major cities in Al Gharbia and the existing road network.
Table 1: Population Estimates
Al Gharbia, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, which accounts for more than four-fifths of the total area covered by the Emirate, is set on a course to become as wealthy above the ground as the oil and gas reserves are beneath it. Al Gharbia is a major contributor to the economy of Abu Dhabi, providing over AED 115 billion to the Emirate’s GDP each year. The region not only has the largest oil refinery of the UAE, but also a developed agricultural industry, including home to the largest and most fertile farms in the country. The region is also marked by its diverse agriculture and animal husbandry, ranging from dates and vegetable production to goat, sheep and camel ranching. Camel ranching in particular represents a wide range of activities from the production of dairy and meat product to thorough bred racing and tourism.
Plan Al Gharbia 2030, highlights the long term socio-economic infrastructure plans and projects for the region. The plan provides theoretical solutions and details the overreaching principles, the framework to deliver products and the conceptual plan for the Al Gharbia region including its use of land, provision of open space, building heights, density, transportation and provision of community facilities.
The WRDC has developed a 20 year strategy for Al Gharbia that will see the expansion of existing towns and upgrades and develops new facilities in the areas of education, health care, housing, retail, leisure and infrastructure. Substantial investments totaling AED 98 Billion to date have been announced in the key fields of Oil and Gas AED 74 billion, Power generation AED 6.55 billion, Roads and Highways AED 4.37 billion, Infrastructure AED 0.97 billion, Tourism and Leisure AED 12.20 billion. In March 2009 the Trans – Emirate rail network announced that a rail network will be built to link all the seven emirates within the UAE. The railway is planned to begin at the coast and continue all the way to the Saudi border in Sila, making the region even more accessible in the future.
Figure 1: Seven cities of Al Gharbia
Table 2 summarizes an overview of current activities, major economic activities envisaged and a select number of proposed projects as per ‘Plan Al Gharbia 2030’ in each of the Al Gharbia towns:
Such investments would help to build the region’s economy by increasing opportunity and productivity in these key industries, thereby achieving overall growth and prosperity for the region.
1 The Arabic word ‘Al Gharbia’ means ‘western’.
2 The Arabic word ‘TAMM’ means ‘done’.