Aug 01 2012
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Future Cities forum to tackle urban challenges
According to the World Bank, 192 million people in MENA reside in urban areas, representing 58 percent of the total population of 331 million. UN projections predict that the overall MENA population will reach 430 million by 2020, of which 280 million are expected to be located in cities, representing an increase of 45 percent, compared to the projected rural increase of 8.5 percent.
The rapidly increasing urbanization of the MENA region and the corresponding challenges it faces will be highlighted at the Future Cities Conference and Exhibition, where global case studies from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Australia will be presented, showcasing how innovation and transformation in sustainable urban strategy can be applied.
Taking place alongside Cityscape Global on Oct. 2-4 at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Future Cities will bring together top influential leaders behind the cities at the forefront of groundbreaking urban design.
Following the Keynote Address by Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Dubai Municipality, Hani Mohammad Ahmad Aburas, Mayor of the Jeddah Municipality will demonstrate how Saudi's second largest city is turning the strategic plan of Jeddah 2030 into action.
As the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is expecting to add one million extra housing units by 2030 to cope with the increasing number of expats and an influx of Saudi nationals from rural areas.
Joining Aburas will be Lisa-M. Scaffidi, the Mayor of Perth, who will present a case study on the Western Australian coastal city as the Indian Ocean gateway to the rest of Australia.
Home to 1.9 million people, Perth is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, with local government authorities steering development to establish the city as the premier destination for business, nightlife, culture and the arts as more people choose to make the city their home.
While the MENA region boasts two megacities in Cairo and Tehran, each home to more than 10 million inhabitants, 25 percent of the region's urban population is concentrated in cities between one million and five million people, while 50 per cent reside in cities under one million.
Against the very high regional urbanization rate, the provision of adequate infrastructure and public services is a key urban challenge. This is all the more taxing given the backlog of underserviced populations and the increasing pressure on fragile surrounding environments.
The three day Future Cities Conference and Exhibition is the region's premier platform uniting public and private sector stakeholders in active discussion to tackle the challenges urban leaders face in implementing and maintaining sustainable urban growth in challenging economic times.
Rohan Marwaha, Managing Director of Future Cities, said: "The migration of populations to cities creates a significant challenge for city planners as they work to create a sustainable infrastructure, while maintaining sensitivity to the preservation of cultural heritage and historic landmarks."
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