The Other Side of the Urban Densification ‘Coin’: Impacts on Social Sustainability in Redeveloped Urban Sprawled Communities in United Arab Emirates

Lubna Shekfa, Khaled Galal Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Urban sprawl has been a persistent sustainability impediment caused by its associated low urban density that led to heavy reliance on private cars. To overcome this problem, urban densification, as a sustainable planning approach, has been widely advocated. Al Ain, one of the most affected cities by urban sprawl in the United Arab Emirates, has recently adopted an urban densification process through its Al Ain Plan 2030 and started applying it by 2010 in a pioneering redevelopment project in Bida Bin Ammar neighborhood. This research aims at studying the impacts of the applied urban densification measures and tools on social sustainability in this neighborhood. The research adopts a qualitative case study method utilizing field observations as the main source of primary data collection, while the analysis of CAD drawings, census data, land-use plans, and Google Earth maps forms a secondary source of data for this study. Based on the results of the study, it is concluded that urban densification through its two applied measures, the Intensification and the Infill Development, have enhanced social sustainability in Bida Bin Ammar neighborhood but with various degrees of success for each of the social sustainability principle and indicators. While mixed use and accessibility principles have been partially enhanced in the study area, density, mobility, social capital, quality of life, sense of belonging, and safety and security have been weakly enhanced. Accordingly, a proposed set of guidelines have been initiated to inform decision-makers in the city, and maybe in other cities in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf region, to help them revise the applied urban densification process in a way that helps achieve more socially sustainable urban communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalFuture Cities and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Social Sustainability
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Urban Community
  • Urban Densification
  • Urban Redevelopment
  • Urban Sprawl

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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