This chapter explores the notion and practice of the smart city with a geographical focus on Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Smart-city projects are understood and discussed as the product of overarching political economies related to fast-track urbanisation. The case of Abu Dhabi shows that smart-city initiatives are connected to the state’s goals of changing its economic base and preserving the political status quo, through the development and commercialization of smart-clean technology. In this sense, the smart city, as a living laboratory meant to produce new cleantech products such as smart grids and state-of-the-art solar power stations, becomes the physical locus where new strands of the regional economy are cultivated. Through the example of Masdar City, a new high-tech city under construction in Abu Dhabi, the chapter unpacks and critiques the contradictions between the economic imperatives that underpin so-called smart interventions and their overall sustainability, revealing that, as in most cases of ecological modernisation, socio-environmental concerns are overshadowed by business interests. We conclude that, in addition to being ineffective against the social and the environmental problems caused by cities, by supporting transnational machines of production and consumption, smart-city solutions risk to backfire and exacerbate the same vicious circle that they should be breaking.  

The smart city as urban eco-modernisation: the case of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi

D. Ponzini
2018

Abstract

This chapter explores the notion and practice of the smart city with a geographical focus on Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Smart-city projects are understood and discussed as the product of overarching political economies related to fast-track urbanisation. The case of Abu Dhabi shows that smart-city initiatives are connected to the state’s goals of changing its economic base and preserving the political status quo, through the development and commercialization of smart-clean technology. In this sense, the smart city, as a living laboratory meant to produce new cleantech products such as smart grids and state-of-the-art solar power stations, becomes the physical locus where new strands of the regional economy are cultivated. Through the example of Masdar City, a new high-tech city under construction in Abu Dhabi, the chapter unpacks and critiques the contradictions between the economic imperatives that underpin so-called smart interventions and their overall sustainability, revealing that, as in most cases of ecological modernisation, socio-environmental concerns are overshadowed by business interests. We conclude that, in addition to being ineffective against the social and the environmental problems caused by cities, by supporting transnational machines of production and consumption, smart-city solutions risk to backfire and exacerbate the same vicious circle that they should be breaking.  
Inside Smart Cities Place, Politics and Urban Innovation
9780815348689
smart city; Abu Dhabi; urban planning; urban development
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11311/1079058
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