Downtown Abu Dhabi, Mar 2008

Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi has started the process of transformation at a later stage and there is an existing urban fabric that may well shape future developments. One of the most striking things about the city is that there are both generic and local, or regional, influences at play. The city has a large residential population so mixed use is the pattern. There is also an earlier ‘layer’ of development strongly influenced by a late modernist aesthetic, seen clearly in buildings such as the Abu Dhabi Public Library and Cultural Centre designed by Hisham N. Ashkouri and built in the early 1980s. In a similar way, the strong Muslim outlook of the Emirate influences the urban fabric with a mosque building program that extends from the grand Sheikh Zayed Mosque to much smaller local ones that accompany housing developments. It is likely that over the next 10 -15 years the city will radically transform. What is unique with much of the newly proposed developments is that they are going to be created with an attitude and confidence that does not set upper limits on the imagination.

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