The Business Year

Falah Al Ahbabi

UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Transport

Cultural identity

Chairman, Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT)


Falah Al Ahbabi is Chairman of DMT and Board Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. He is also Board Chairman of Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre (Tadweer), the Higher Corporation for Specialized Economic Zones – ZonesCorp, the General Projects and Operational Affairs Committee of the Executive Office, and the Al Reem Island Essential Infrastructure Committee. He is also a board member of Etihad Rail and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. He has a degree in management from California State University.

As the entity responsible for supporting the growth and sustainable urban development of Abu Dhabi, DMT continues to take a forward-looking and innovative approach to urban planning, municipal services, and the transport sector.

What institutional changes and added administrative and governance value has the consolidation of the Urban Planning Council, Department of Transport, and the Department of Municipal Affairs to become DMT brought to Abu Dhabi’s residents?
The consolidation has brought together all urban planning functions across the Emirate into a single administrative structure. This has aligned the DMT’s strategic planning and the Emirate’s overall vision with the daily operational functions of the municipalities and transport sector, creating more comprehensive urban planning, transport, and municipal services across the Emirate and enhancing the governance value enjoyed by Abu Dhabi residents. These changes have resulted in an improved and more streamlined approach to urban planning matters across the Emirate. The outcome of this approach, coupled with integration of key support functions, such as IT and GIS, have further improved the outcomes of urban planning and the quality of service provided to residents of Abu Dhabi.

What processes drive the development of DMT’s environmental and sustainability agenda, both in terms of thought leadership and consultative processes?
As the entity responsible for supporting the growth and sustainable urban development of Abu Dhabi, DMT is continuing its forward-looking, modern, innovative, and cutting-edge approach to urban planning that has evolved successfully across the Emirate over the past 10-15 years. DMT continues to participate in global discussions on the latest solutions and approaches to urban planning, municipal modernization, and transport, while fostering new relationships and working with countries and governments across the globe that are also recognized leaders in this field. In February 2020, DMT will host the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. This will be the first time an Arab country will host such a prestigious event and further recognizes the position of Abu Dhabi as a leading advocate for appropriate urban planning solutions. Closer to home, DMT’s award-winning Estidama program, for sustainability within the building and development process across the Emirate, continues to be a leader in its field and recently picked up more awards for its training and development programs.

How is feedback and day-to-day experience of ordinary residents incorporated into municipal policy?
The urban governance model in Abu Dhabi has been evolving and developing rapidly in recent years. The evolution of IT systems and development of apps, as well as successfully completing our digital transformation program, have allowed DMT to develop many more tailored online services, which provide quicker, clearer, and accurate development information to residents, in accordance with the governance model. Many of DMT’s recent policy approaches have been developed following specific feedback from residents and the wider community. DMT continually works with the community to enhance the level of urban planning services, according to the needs of residents across the Emirate. One example has been the successful launch of the My Land app, which provides accurate and up-to-date information to residents, on their plots within the city. This also aligns with one of DMT’s core strategic objectives to increase customer happiness.

How does DMT ensure that the urban evolution of Abu Dhabi aligns with the realities of the global economy while also being mindful of preserving the Emirate’s unique cultural heritage?
DMT maintains its understanding of the latest urban planning thinking, solutions, and practices, whilst also taking into consideration the wider financial and economic circumstances in the region and world. Abu Dhabi—and indeed the UAE—are uniquely placed to adapt quickly to any changes in the global economy, given the intuitive and innovational approach of its leadership. Abu Dhabi has, over the years, built up an impressive data resource of knowledge for all the natural and cultural assets. This resource, with the ever-developing regulatory framework being advanced by DMT, will result in greater awareness of these assets and help to direct projects to the appropriate locations within the Emirate, whilst conserving and preserving the rich and unique cultural heritage of Abu Dhabi.



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