Transit Design Guidelines | Abu Dhabi Capital District Centre City Plan

The SCB team led the master planning effort for Abu Dhabi’s Capital City Centre with a vision based on sound planning and urban design principles, sustainable criteria toward environmental quality and lower resource consumption, and the goal of providing the highest quality of life possible for all its citizens.


Abu Dhabi, UAE


Planning /
Transit-Oriented Development /

Guided by the principles of sustainability, SCB developed the City Centre Master Plan, Design Guidelines, and Development Requirements for the Abu Dhabi Capital City District in United Arab Emirates. Development of a modern high-density City Centre in the context of a hot and arid desert landscape presents many challenges.

Encompassing 1,000 hectares of mixed-use downtown core to support a population of over 200,000 people, the City Centre will accommodate 1.6 million square meters of commercial office space; 700,000 square meters of government office space; 60,000 residential units; 750,000 square meters of hotel; and 450,000 square meters of retail. The distribution of land uses, neighborhood centers, and densities in the City Centre Master Plan is based on a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) model that concentrates a mix of transit-supported land uses and development densities at transit station locations. The Abu Dhabi Regional Transportation Plan has identified a modal split goal of 40 percent of the trip generation to be accommodated by public transportation by 2030. This will be done through the implementation of an extensive network of regional rail, metro rail, street trams, and bus systems.

The concept of TOD, a dominant fundamental concept, guided a multitude of decisions in the refinement of the City Centre.  The location of the public transportation network has significant impacts on the land use, density, access, and overall character of the Centre City. The public transit network includes the following elements:

  • Regional Rail: The regional rail will connect the Capital City District with Al Ain, Dubai, and the Airport. The location of the station hub in the Central Business District (CBD) will present significant development opportunities for the downtown location and impacts associated with a major intermodal station for regional rail, Metro subway, surface tramways, and bus facilities.
  • Metro Rail: The Metro is the local underground subway system that serves the CBD with three stations and the North Spine with four stations.
  • Street Tram: An extensive network of surface trams will serve the high-density areas within the Capital City District.
  • Bus System: The locations of the bus routes in the Capital City District are still being considered. Two bus intermodal transfer stations are being proposed.