Jubail Island developers say housing plan will not threaten wildlife

Thousands of new mangroves will be planted for the project, builders insist

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Jubail Island is home to gazelle, flamingos, sea turtles and mangrove forests.

But developers have insisted their plans for a major building project on the currently undeveloped natural island will enhance, rather than threaten, its rich wildlife.

Around 25,000 new mangroves are to be planted over the next year. In addition, around 10 kilometres of new canals around the outskirts of the island will be designed to improve the supply of water and offer a new home to fish.

"We don't believe there is any project in Abu Dhabi, or even in the UAE, similar to this one," said Mounir Haidar, managing director of Jubail Island Investment Company.

"We are offering smaller villas on larger plots, and that's what we believe the market is missing.

Yas is all about entertainment, Al Maryah is all about business, Saadiyat is tourism. This one is really about nature

"Developers need to cater their development to the topography, that's what we do, we don't play with nature. We follow nature and develop around it."

Among the planned new features of the island is a waterside eco park, a mangrove boardwalk and hiking trails. Those purchasing plots overlooking a bay have been promised views of a "thriving ecosystem" that will include rare birds and gazelle.

Pieces of pottery will also be preserved, alongside other signs of early civilisation dating back thousands of years, items that were found about three years ago when environmental surveys were carried out.

Greg McBride, associate director of urbanism at architecture company Broadway Malyan, has worked on the project for about two years.

He said the Jubail plans had been developed to focus on wellness for residents, with a connection to nature vital to its appeal. The neighbourhoods have also been designed to allow for active lifestyles and to create a sense of community.

"People now understand that things like obesity are causing real issues, and mental health can be helped by environment. There's a lot of research backing this up," he said.

"Having contact with nature has a proven effect on our psychological well-being. That is the biggest difference here - that opportunity to be among nature.

"When I first arrived here I took some photos, it was a perfect winter's morning. The sun was coming up and I was out here by myself. I will never forget that morning as long as I live. Opportunities like that, where people have direct access to nature, with the walking trails throughout, are key.

"Yas is all about entertainment, Al Maryah is all about business, Saadiyat is tourism. This one is really about nature."