While establishing itself as a global financial hub, Dubai now focuses on sustainability and “green” urbanization. In this view, the upcoming sustainable megaproject aims at making Dubai the most connected city on earth by foot or bike.
The Loop is a climate-controlled year-round structure designed to promote cycling and walking as a primary mode of transport for people in Dubai developed by URB, among the champions of innovation and transition towards sustainable development.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Baharash Bagherian, URB’s CEO.
Mr. Baharash Bagherian, how did URB come up with the idea of the 93-km cycling super highway?
The project is in line with Dubai’s ambition of becoming a 20 minute city, where residents are able to access daily needs & destinations within 20 minutes by foot or bicycle. In the past few years, Dubai has strived to become the world’s most liveable city and launched the 2040 urban masterplan. As such Urban mobility has become a key priority.
With newly built mega highways & road infrastructures already shaping the way people move around in Dubai, we need a new bold vision that will accelerate the transition towards cycling & walking between neighborhoods. THE LOOP was designed to shift the primary mode of transport in Dubai away from cars & taxis.
How will the 93-kilometer highway be structured?
THE LOOP will have an enclosed structure that will provide an enjoyable climate controlled all-year environment. The undulating shape responds to the variation of spaces and uses inside, as it is a multifunctional & multiuse infrastructure. THE LOOP features leisure facilities such as fitness stations & sports courts. Tourism assets such as wellness hotels & wellness centres will also be integrated to promote wellness tourism. The typical profile was also optimized & future-proofed to allow for additional infrastructure to be integrated in the future.
We are currently optimising the final selection of materials to consider the entire life cycle & embodied carbon emissions. The objective is to provide the best balance between economics and environmental goals.
How will the realization of THE LOOP have an impact on Dubai residents’ life?
The aim is to make walking, running & cycling one of the primary modes of transports, whilst providing better social infrastructures & facilities for residents, to make Dubai the best place in the world for living. THE LOOP looks to also embrace the Dubai 2040 urban masterplan, by providing better connectivity, resilient infrastructures & shared facilities for neighborhoods. It will become the world’s largest urban sharing facility where multiple neighborhoods can share the same amenities, thus also promoting social, environmental, and economic sustainability.
The design of THE LOOP improves public health, is resilient to natural hazards and mitigates climate change with broader benefits including, increased physical activity and social cohesion. THE LOOP is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to create inclusive, safe, resilient & sustainable cities.
THE LOOP will also have its own app, to give residents rewards for the length of cycling or walking they made daily. The more a resident uses THE LOOP, the more rewards are given. This will motivate residents to make more use of sustainable modes of transport & bring economic benefits to both citizens & governments. Citizens will be healthier & happier, whilst CO2 emissions associated with Urban Mobility will be significantly reduced.
Ultimately, significantly boosting cycling has multiple benefits. Beyond reducing congestion, pollution & carbon emissions, cycling makes people healthier and happier.
The question that arises most often when talking about mega green economy projects is: could their implementation and development imply unsustainable practices?
It depends on the purpose of such mega projects & how well it meets sustainable development goals. At URB, our developments follow the highest sustainability standards during planning, construction and operations by providing multifunctional holistic solutions with minimal impact to the environment whilst addressing all the three key pillars of sustainability: social, economic and environmental.
People and media continue to show interest and curiosity about THE LOOP as well as Dubai Agrihub. Why do you think the two projects are getting so much attention these days?
THE LOOP & Agri Hub have received significant attention because we need a paradigm shift in the way we plan future cities as well as the types of assets that we need to build for a sustainable future. The value of such assets will be based on how they respond to the human needs, as such, our projects are providing a blueprint to the next generation of sustainable cities, which have become a necessity.
Today we are also at the very early stages in the evolution of sustainable cities, thus the features of a sustainable city is rapidly evolving as urban challenges grow, lifestyle habits change, socio-economic challenges expand and new technologies emerge. The increase rate of climate change is also fuelling new thinking in the planning of the next generation of sustainable cities, for which our projects are providing the benchmarks for others to follow. THE LOOP & Agri Hub are just a few examples of our projects that are gaining attention.