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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Ruwais 2.0: yet another impossible dream realised in the UAE

Plans to create a vibrant and fully fledged city reflect the UAE’s long-term vision

Adnoc has launched plans to transform Ruwais into a full-fledged city. Courtesy Adnoc
Adnoc has launched plans to transform Ruwais into a full-fledged city. Courtesy Adnoc

Some 240 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi, in a stretch of once- barren desert, transformation is afoot. It might have been a subdued fishing village in 1982 when Sheikh Zayed unveiled its first oil facility, but today Ruwais is an industrial powerhouse, which will soon house the world’s largest refinery. It is easy to become accustomed to each spectacular new development, but in Ruwais – as in the glistening metropolises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi – the UAE has overcome huge obstacles to make the implausible a reality.

With the capacity to refine 922,000 barrels a day already, Ruwais is an engine of the UAE’s growth, allowing the country to meet the significant energy demands of importers in Asia and beyond. But while the UAE has in the past pinned its success to oil production, the country’s future is far more diverse. As it moves proudly away from oil dependence, the nation is becoming a global hub of business, culture and learning. And it is in Ruwais that this particular shift is so expertly distilled.

With its sights firmly fixed on the future, Adnoc has extremely broad ambitions for Ruwais, beginning with plans to transform the refinery town into a fully fledged and well-populated city. The 25,000 people currently living and working there will witness firsthand this epic transformation as health centres, souqs, malls and even a golf course emerge from the sand. As Adnoc chief executive Dr Sultan Al Jaber noted: “It is about improving residents’ quality of life as we continue to build a strong, sustainable community.” And as ever, the UAE is open for business.

This is the next phase in Ruwais’s astonishing growth, from dusty village to sprawling refinery complex to self-sufficient satellite city. Those tasked with the weighty responsibility of running the world’s largest refinery will enjoy a vibrant after-work life, with restaurants and leisure facilities on their doorsteps. It is in this fashion that the very best talent is brought to Ruwais and the UAE more generally. There was a time when such an audacious plan would have raised eyebrows. Today ­completion of such endeavours is only to be expected in a nation that ­continually sets out to achieve the impossible.