Dubai 2040: everything you need to know about the Urban Master Plan

Plan unveiled by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid is set to improve the quality of life in the city

Powered by automated translation

A comprehensive plan that lays out the future of Dubai's sustainable urban development was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Saturday.

The Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai unveiled the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan with the aim of transforming the emirate and creating a truly interconnected, people-led city that balances community with tourism and modernity with heritage and nature.

Over the next two decades, the emirate's population is expected to swell to 5.8 million, from 3.3 million now, and this new plan aims to ensure that Dubai is the best city in the world to live in.

The National breaks down what to expect from Dubai by 2040.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's vision to make Dubai the world’s best city to live

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid's vision to make Dubai the world’s best city to live

What is the plan?

The Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan is the seventh plan of its kind to be implemented in the emirate since 1960.

It focuses on using space within the limits of the current city and concentrates development in existing urban areas.

These are the main highlights:

  • Five main urban areas will be developed
  • Spaces designated for educational and health facilities will increase by 25 per cent
  • Areas for hotels and tourism will be expanded by 134 per cent
  • Areas used for commercial, industrial and economic activities will increase to 168 square kilometres
  • Length of public beaches will increase by as much as 400 per cent
  • 60 per cent of Dubai to comprise of nature reserves and natural areas
  • 55 per cent of the population will live within 800 metres of a main public transport station

Ultimately, the plan seeks to raise the quality of life of the city while increasing population densities around mass transit stations.

Along with the physical plan, an urban planning law was issued to support sustainable development and improvement in the emirate.

What is the aim?

The main goal it to make Dubai the best city in the world to live in from a leisure and working perspective, Sheikh Mohammed said.

Other key priorities include improving resource use efficiency, developing vibrant and inclusive communities, and doubling green and leisure areas to provide a healthy environment for residents and visitors.

The plan seeks to provide sustainable and flexible means of mobility, foster greater economic activity and attract foreign investments to new sectors.

Other objectives include enhancing environmental sustainability, safeguarding the emirate’s cultural and urban heritage and developing a comprehensive legislation and planning governance model.

The five major zones

Under the plan, development and investment will be focused on five main urban areas, each with their own theme that supports economic growth, increased job opportunities and will provide lifestyle facilities that cater to the needs of all sections of the population.

Two of the areas will be new, while the other three will be revitalised.

The existing urban centres include Deira and Bur Dubai, historic areas that highlight the emirate’s tradition and heritage; the business and financial heart of the city encompasses Downtown and Business Bay; the hospitality and leisure centre will be the Dubai Marina and JBR, which will also serves as an international tourism and leisure hub.

Burj Khalifa lights up for 2040 Dubai urban plan

Burj Khalifa lights up for 2040 Dubai urban plan

The new centres include the Expo 2020 Centre that will include affordable housing and become a focal point for exhibitions, tourism and logistics sectors. Dubai Silicon Oasis Centre will be a science and technology and knowledge hub that will drive innovation and digital economy development and foster talent.

A sense of community 

The Dubai of the future will be constructed of areas that each have access to facilities, services and opportunities for all residents.

Communities have been defined throughout the plan based on their populations and the number of available facilities will depend on how large each area is.

This is hierarchy set out in the plan:

1. Towns: the largest areas with populations of 1 million to 1.5 million. Five towns will be built around each of the five urban centres

2. Multi-sector: the second largest with populations of between 300,000 and 400,000

3. Sector: populations of 70,000 to 125,000

4. District: populations of 20,000 to 30,000

5. Community: populations from 6,000 to 12,000

6. Neighbourhood: populations of 2,000 to 4,000

Investment in infrastructure, energy and government services, and facilities like schools, hospitals and leisure centres will depending on an area's classification.


The "people-led" development aims to improve interconnectivity by ensuring 55 per cent of the population will live within 800 metres of a main public transport station.

Images of the plan indicate that a third airport will be built near Dubai Silicon Oasis. Further details about the airport were not released.

Previously, it was announced that more cycling lanes would be laid down across the emirate as part of a move to encourage healthier lifestyles and cut traffic.

Several green corridors will be established to link the service areas, residential areas and workplaces, ease the movement of pedestrians, bicycles and sustainable mobility means across the city.

Beaches, parks and sustainability

A big part of the plan is to vastly increase the green areas across Dubai emirate. Wildlife sanctuaries and natural rural areas will make up 60 per cent of the emirate.

In October, Sheikh Mohammed said Dubai would create a dozen new beaches and 8 million square metres of green spaces at a cost of more than Dh2.5 billion ($680 million).

“We also approved the development of 12 kilometres of Dubai's beaches, that cover 1 million square metres, from Mamzar Beach to Umm Suqeim II,” Sheikh Mohammed said at the time.

The beach projects are being developed at a cost of Dh500m.

Hatta development plan

The Hatta Development Plan, part of Dubai's wider plan, seeks to develop and raise the profile of Hatta's natural and tourism attractions, as well as protect its environment.

A sustainable hydro-electric power plant will be built. People in the area will be given the opportunity to help promote tourism and preserve Hatta's natural beauty - with the aim of increasing tourism and agriculture contribution to the region's GDP by 32 per cent.

At least 78 per cent of Hatta will be designated as conservation reserves, as the population is expected to double by 2040.

Emirati housing

Homes for Emiratis are also included in the plan with the goal of providing "diverse solutions with the highest standards".

The communities will include green spaces, commercial centres and recreational facilities.

Any old districts designated as Emirati housing will be revitalised.

Integrated town house-style complexes will be developed as well as multi-storey units.

Strategic land banks will also be reserved for housing beyond 2040.