A Quarterly Newsletter from UAE and Oman Offices

VOL 12, Issue 2 April 2010

Masdar City - An Emerging Global Clean - Technology Cluster

While its eye-catching architecture and signature commitment to being one of the most sustainable cities in the world have put Masdar City in headlines across the globe, it is the substantial business and research opportunities it offers as the first clean-technology cluster to be located in such a sustainable city that has already attracted leading companies, organisations and academic institutions. For example:

  • General Electric will build its first Ecomagination Centre, a facility that will promote sustainable business solutions in the region.
  • The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an inter-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting the adoption of renewable energy solutions worldwide, will locate its headquarters at Masdar City.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is cooperating in the development and ongoing activities of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a graduate-level, research-driven academic institute focused entirely on education and research in advanced energy solutions and sustainable technologies.

But Masdar City is not only designed for large organisations. It also is ideal for small- and medium-sized enterprises, regional firms and entrepreneurial start-ups operating in the field of renewable energy and clean technology, as well as the many ancillary services that support them. Driving everything at the six-square-kilometre free zone located near the Abu Dhabi International Airport and close to Yas and Saadiyat islands is a vision to become a global centre for sales, marketing and demonstration of renewable energy and sustainability technologies, as well as a unique living laboratory for innovation, research and product development in these fields.

Construction began at Masdar City in 2008. In the third quarter of 2010, handover will begin of the first completed buildings, forming the initial part of the Masdar Institute campus. The rest of Phase 1, which includes the mixed-use Masdar Institute Neighbourhood, will be completed in stages through 2013, with construction planned such that finished sections won’t be impacted by ongoing construction elsewhere.

Although Phase 1 is still underway, Masdar City is already creating a community of cleantech companies by offering temporary offices in an existing building in Abu Dhabi city, ahead of their move to permanent premises in Masdar City.

Masdar City

Masdar City is one of five integrated components of Masdar, the multifaceted future energy company wholly owned by the Mubadala Development Company, the Abu Dhabi Government investment vehicle. Masdar’s other operating units are the Masdar Institute; Masdar Power, which is both a renewable energy project manager and investor in renewable energy utility companies; Masdar Carbon, which seeks to monetise carbon-emission reduction projects internationally and to develop a carbon capture and storage network in the emirate; and Masdar Venture Capital, which manages mid- to late-stage venture capital funds with investments in clean energy, environmental resources, energy and material efficiency, and environmental services.

A Thriving Hub

A fully integrated mixed-use community, Masdar City will have commercial, residential, retail, leisure and recreational areas, including parks, providing a living and working environment unmatched anywhere else in the world. The city’s businesses, residents, students and visitors – will enjoy the highest quality infrastructure and quality of life – all in one of the most sustainable environments anywhere.

Power largely will be generated through various solar energy technologies. High-tech water efficiency and recycling technologies will dramatically reduce consumption and provide irrigation for landscaping and crop production. Waste will be recycled, composted and used to produce power.

Masdar City will be the first modern city to operate without fossil-fuelled cars and trucks. The design of the city will allow individuals to live and work without the need for a personal vehicle, in part through the first large-scale transportation system that is carbon neutral and emission free. A remarkable Personal Rapid Transit and Freight Rapid Transit network is being evaluated to ensure that no destination in the city is more than 250m from the city’s transportation network.

Business Benefits

Locating in Masdar City offers numerous benefits to cleantech companies and organisations, as well as a wide range of ancillary service providers.Most significantly, locating in the city offers the ability to demonstrate technologies in a city-scale, living-laboratory setting – an opportunity unmatched anywhere else – as the only large-scale platform of its kind anywhere in the world for testing cutting-edge cleantech technologies.

Plus, companies will enjoy the many other benefits of being in the world’s leading cleantech cluster, such as being surrounded by a critical mass of likeminded professionals, a large pool of high-quality talent, a high-profile business address, and excellent access to local, regional and international markets through Abu Dhabi’s excellent telecommunications, air, land and sea transportation and logistics facilities.

The US$22 billion Masdar City itself represents a major market and customer for cleantech products and solutions across a wide range ofsectors.

As well, the city will be at the crossroads of the global renewable energy and cleantech industry, with numerous events taking place in the city, including the annual World Future Energy Summit – which after only three years has established itself as the leading global summit in the industry, the activities and meetings of IRENA and speakers and lectures at Masdar Institute.
There will be potential opportunities for collaboration with Masdar Institute in the fields of renewable energy and clean technology. Plus, the institute will produce a steady stream of MSc and PhD graduates, with its student population growing to 600 in the next few years – thereby ensuring a highly skilled talent pool of engineers and scientists specialised in core cleantech-related disciplines.

What’s more, Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) countries, as well as those in the surrounding region, offer large and growing markets for cleantech solutions given their strong economic and demographic growth and increasingly supportive regulatory environment and government-level commitment to sustainability.

As with other free zones in the UAE, locating in Masdar City offers, among other benefits, a rapid set-up process, reduced tax footprint and pro-business environment.

Free zone benefits include:

  • Quick and easy set-up with a single point for registration, government relations and visa processing.
  • Assistance in obtaining and authenticating vital documents and obtaining customs clearances.
  • A fast-track immigration process designed to ensure swift access to talent and resources.
  • No import tariffs.
  • No individual or corporate taxes.
  • No restrictions on capital movements, profits or quotas.
  • Set up without a local sponsor and 100% foreign ownership.
  • No currency restrictions.

For most companies, whatever their size or stage of development, there are two main ways to benefit from engaging with Masdar City:

  • As a supplier, companies can provide the products and solutions that will be used to develop and operate the city;
  • As a partner, companies can operate from the city, thereby benefiting from its one-of-a-kind cleantech cluster environment, and they can supply the city with products and solutions.

Masdar City is positioning itself to be at the centre of the cleantech industry, an industry that will see tremendous growth, both here in the region and across the globe for decades to come. As such, it provides not just a one-of-a-kind location for working and living, but also an opportunity to be a part of the future.

(This article and the accompanying photographs were provided by Masdar City. For further information, please visit www.masdarcity.com or email joinus@masdarcity.ae.
You can also reach them on 00971 2 653 3333)