x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

New mosque rules unveiled by planners

Urban Planning Council rules will regulate number and location of mosques.

ABU DHABI // Mosques must meet new standards for size, type and design under guidelines due to be released by Government this year.

The number and location of new mosques will also fall under the regulations.

The Urban Planning Council (UPC) and Mosque Development Committee worked with planners and residents to come up with the standards, which will differ depending on the density of the neighbourhood and the proximity of other community facilities.

Mosques will be built to reflect Emirati culture and heritage, although other Arabian styles can be incorporated with special permission, according to Amer Al Hammadi, the UPC's director of planning and infrastructure.

"We plan and design the city for residents and we ensure everything we do suits them," he said.

The standards will be released in three volumes, regulating the number and location of mosques, their architecture and technical design and their operation once construction is complete.

A preliminary version of the regulations are already in place. An official launch is due by September. The council yesterday unveiled a raft of planning policies and regulations it will implement this year on the sidelines of Cityscape, the capital's real estate and property exhibition.

The initiatives will target new and existing communities and are partially based on resident feedback from a 2010 study of 11,000 households in the emirate.

"Any new regulation or criteria, we refer to that study," said Mr Al Hammadi. "We have to take their wants, their needs, their desires into account."

The UPC will also prioritise building community facilities, including schools and clinics, and developing a manual that outlines a vision for safe and secure communities.

Other priorities include a guide for all utility work and a comprehensive plan for Abu Dhabi's marine and coastal areas.

"The new planning initiatives ... present a unique opportunity to develop a suitable and sustainable community infrastructure that will improve the quality of life for all residents," said Falah Al Ahbabi, general manager of the UPC.

This year, the UPC will update its Urban Street Design Manual. The plan includes pedestrian signals and cycle lanes.

Once approved, the standards, regulations and policies will be available to the public. Community outreach and a social media campaign will support the launch.