A new video has surfaced of Masdar City, a planned community outside Abu Dhabi once touted as the world's first zero-carbon city, looking stalled out and nearly abandoned. Not much seems to have been developed there in the past few years: little of the four-square-mile, Norman Foster-designed plan has been built aside from a huddle of mostly empty buildings. There's a library, a few retail outlets, and a small graduate institute, populated mostly by security guards and the handful of students in attendance. Looking out from the complex, there's little to be seen aside from a white fence demarcating the area, punctuated by signs reading "Masdar City, the city of possibilities."
With a planned investment of $18B, Masdar was supposed to attract some 50,000 workers, along with hundreds of startups, of which there are only a few present in the development stage. There's a Siemens office and General Electric showroom, as well as an organic supermarket; ironic in a place where the inhabitants have to drive miles to get anything else.
Julien Eymeri, who made a recent trip to Masdar City, does a great job explaining the tone of the place to Co.Exist. The accompanying video is almost comically eerie; what Eymeri describes as the "omnipresent, even oppressive" drone of a wind tower" sounds uncannily like the low, droning soundtrack of a quiet but ominous stretch of a modern action film, giving Masdar the feel of a Neill Blomkamp techno-dystopia. When the cameraman plays with a touch-screen display praising the city's sustainability, the segment starts to feel very "future cosmonaut discovers a failed utopia." (But surprise! It was Earth the entire time.)
Eymeri describes the reaction of an official asked about the future of Masdar City: "a representative remains cautious, asking for patience--a surprising statement in a state which makes a claim on all street corners to be the fastest and first--and finally admits that it is--politically--unthinkable to abandon such a project." Visit Co.Exist for the full account.