Designs for Dubai's The Loop revealed, a sustainable 93km cycling and wellness highway

The climate-controlled urban artery may soon be home to new hotels, urban parks, vertical farms and sports facilities

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Plans for a 93km sustainable urban highway in Dubai have been revealed, which would create the smartest cycling and running platform in the world.

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, said developer URB.

Housing a zero-emissions transport system, The Loop would be powered by kinetic flooring allowing it to operate on 100 per cent renewable energy. It would be a mixed-use facility offering leisure options for residents and visitors.

Several wellness hotels could be dotted along its snaking structure, which is designed to be a hub for wellness tourism. Developers plan to cater for all types of travellers, with luxury, mid and budget hotels. There would also be fitness stations and sports courts.

“Dubai is the best place for entrepreneurship in urban mobility. The Loop project is an embodiment of that entrepreneurial spirit, which aims to make Dubai the most connected city on earth by foot or bike,” said URB chief executive Baharash Bagherian.

“In Europe, most people ride bicycles or walk to get to work. In Dubai, our aim is to get more than 80 per cent of people to use a bike on a daily basis.”

Housed in a curved glass structure, The Loop would be filled with greenery and have several pocket parks, playgrounds and allotments. Vertical farms inside the structure could be used to grow produce, allowing for more locally produced food in the city.

The project is currently in the research and development stage, but if approved could form an important part of the city's plans to reduce car dependency by enabling urban residents to walk or cycle to essential amenities within a few minutes from their homes. The plans also run alongside Dubai's vision to become one of the most liveable in the world.

Proposals for The Loop include a route that incorporates neighbourhoods including Expo City, JLT, Al Quoz, Downtown Dubai, Meydan and Academic City.

Developers told The National an exact route has yet to be confirmed and developers are finalising "the best options for the project, this includes the final route, phasing and timelines".

This first phase of the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

If constructed, residents making use of The Loop will be rewarded for their daily step count or cycling efforts each day. Metrics would be tracked on an app, and the more someone uses The Loop, the more rewards will be given.

“It will become the first active mobility infrastructure of its kind anywhere in the world, with various amenities and sustainability features that will shape the future of urban mobility in Dubai and beyond,” added Bagherian.

URB provides development management and master planning services, with a focus on net zero sustainable cities. In December, it unveiled plans for Agri Hub, a new agritourism project in Dubai's desert that's slated to become the biggest in the world of its kind

Other projects it is involved in include XZero City in Kuwait, a sustainable net zero city for 100,000 residents, and Alnama Smart City in Riyadh, which will house 44,000 people.

What are 20-minute cities: Dubai, Edinburgh and Melbourne

The Loop fits Dubai’s plans to become a 20-minute city.

Under the objective, which was announced last year, 55 per cent of residents will live within 800 metres of mass transit station, allowing them to access their daily needs with no more than a 20-minute journey, on foot or bike.

Research has shown that 20 minutes is the maximum time many people are willing to walk to meet their daily needs locally. This 20-minute journey represents an 800-metre walk from home to a destination and back again or a 10-minute walk to your destination and another 10 minutes back home.

Several other destinations around the world are striving to incorporate 20-minute neighbourhoods into their framework including Edinburgh and Melbourne, with Paris having previously announced plans to try to transform into a 15-minute city.

Updated: February 01, 2023, 8:24 AM