Sheikh Hamdan: Cutting commuting times will bring happiness and wealth

World Government Summit hears how city design will change the way we live

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed delivers a statement via hologram at the World Government Summit. Screengrab
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A conference speech via hologram was a first, even for the futuristic aspirations of Dubai. That is how Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed chose to deliver his speech on the future of cities at the end of day two of the World Government Summit.

His focus was on the seven shifts shaping a modern city of the future, beginning with its design, and mobility at its heart.

How we live in a modern city will change, with a predicted increased use of smart devices tapped in to the Internet of Things.

“Countries are nothing but a bundle of cities, and their success is related to the success of their economies,” said Sheikh Hamdan, projected as a hologram on stage.

“The future of human beings and life is intimately related to the future of cities.

“Many of the world’s cities look to Dubai as a symbol of the future.

“We have a constant goal to be at least 10 years more advanced.

“The future is supposed to improve the present, to achieve more so the journey towards the future is continuous.”

By reducing travel times between home and work from the average of 60 minutes a day, happiness and personal wealth should increase, according to a study by the University of the West of England referenced during the 30 minute presentation.

Researchers looked at the impact on well-being of 26,000 commuters between 2009-2015.

It found every extra minute of commute time reduces job satisfaction, leisure time satisfaction, but increases strain and reduces mental health.

Taking high speed transport links underground and to the air via the Hyperloop and the RTA’s proposed flying taxi project will help reduce commute times, Sheikh Hamdan said.

A previous study found Dubai commuters spent three working days stuck in traffic in 2017, putting into sharp focus the impact on health and family life.

Energy consumption was a central message, with a vision of how homes will become self-sufficient energy providers thanks to the latest sustainable technology, such as transparent windows becoming efficient solar panels.

The competitiveness between cities will encourage a continuing race to improve and keep up with the latest trends.

While the sharing of data will enable technology within cities, it will create a new economy centred around data, sharing of services like Air B&B and circular economies to sell surplus energy created from sustainable sources.

The seventh shift in the development of modern cities is how governance and legislation will operate within urban areas.

Increasing autonomous transport is forecast to reduce traffic by 40 per cent and free up parking spaces for more efficient development.

“The number of parking lots in cities often exceeds 20 per cent of land space, with the cost of that land equivalent of Dh50 billion,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

“The main challenge is reducing the impact of this on social connectivity.

“Cities will be shaped on the experience of individuals, to present quality of life and provide 80 per cent of the needs of an individual.”

The cost of clean energy will reduce and the use of solar energy will increase by 60 per cent from 2016 levels.

“Smart grids for the distribution of energy will enable us to predict the demand for energy,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

“Our homes will become mini-systems to generate power, so every human becomes a producer and consumer of energy at the same time.

“Cities will be more secure, safe, connected and productive.

“They will become food baskets as we move towards more sustainable farming methods within our cities.

“Future design of these cities will create living, breathing urban areas with a digital backbone."