Musanada, the building and general services arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, is pressing ahead with plans to build Dh7.6 billion (US$2.06bn), 42 square kilometres Emirati community in Abu Dhabi - one of the largest of its kind in the capital.
The company this week awarded a contract to the engineering and design specialist Atkins to design the infrastructure for a new 130,000-strong community for Emiratis in the capital in an attempt to meet growing demand.
Known as North Wathba Urban Development, the scheme will include 20,000 villas, flats and townhouses in a neighbourhood north of Baniyas and south of Shamkhah, near Khalifa City B, about 45km from Abu Dhabi city centre.
As part of its role, Atkins will complete design and tender documentation for the enabling works, build permanent infrastructure including primary and local roads, landscaping and amenities.
It will also deliver utility transmission and distribution networks comprising drainage, sewerage, potable water, power, gas, district cooling and telecommunications.
"This is an important and far-reaching project for Abu Dhabi which will provide an excellent quality Emirati neighbourhood, including links to public transport networks and high levels of sustainable design," said Dr Ghassan Ziadat, the director of infrastructure and regional head of bridges for Atkins.
The North Wathba masterplan was completed by Abu Dhabi's Urban Development Council (UPC) and includes plots for shopping centres, schools, hospitals, offices and parks.
UPC is seeking to provide 13,000 new properties to Emirati families by 2015. The municipality issues free residential plots to Emiratis each year.
Although the Abu Dhabi property market in general has an oversupply of homes, with residential rents falling 24 per cent over the past year, according to CBRE, experts say there remains a pent-up demand for social housing within the emirate.
Last month, Mohammed Al Mubarak, Aldar's deputy chief executive, said social housing needs within Abu Dhabi could total as many as 10,000 new homes on top of those already being built.
The North Wathba community lies next to its sister development, the 40 million square foot South Al Shamkha project. That is already under construction after being approved last year by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and will provide an additional 12,460 plots for Emirati villas.
It is expected to be completed by 2014.
South Al Shamkha will include an extensive public transport system that includes a metro system to connect to the capital.