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Sharjah Urban Planning Council, a futuristic vision for sustainability
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Sharjah Urban Planning Council, a futuristic vision for sustainability

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The population of Sharjah jumped from 1.1 million in 2012 to 1.4 million in 2015, as per the estimation of Department of Statistics and Community Development in Sharjah, DSCS.

The impact of the rising population subsequently led to urban expansion, as well as economic and social growth in the emirate.

In response to this growth, relevant authorities seek to develop strategic plans for expanding Sharjah’s capacity and to ensure the needs of the population are met via the creation of an efficient social, cultural, economic, and environmental framework. The goal is to work with different entities and provide innovative solutions to fulfil the need of its citizens.

As a result of this direction, in 2006, the Sharjah Urban Planning Council, SUPC, was formed in order to partner with different stakeholders, including entities and organisations from government and private sectors, to sustainably develop emirate’s urban landscape.

The SUPC was revamped in 2014 under the Emiri Decree No. 05 issued by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, within the framework of the efforts being made to keep pace with the overall development in the Emirate of Sharjah.

Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of SUPC, said, "Under the directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, over the last four decades, the Emirate of Sharjah has succeeded in building a unique identity that combines tradition, authenticity, modernity, culture, and knowledge."

He continued, "With an aim to further these achievements, protect our original identity and ensure sustainability as per the directives of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, SUPC was established to develop a comprehensive strategy for urban development and infrastructure projects. Including the responsibility to oversee the development and execution of a strategic plan."

"The SUPC's mandate is to enhance development and improve essential services that people need such as roads, transportation, green spaces, and social activity spaces," he added.

Sheikh Khalid highlighted SUPC’s key role in contributing to the emirate’s "Green" initiatives, when it collaborated with the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, SEWA, on a project that saw the launch of the electric car-charging stations across Sharjah, in a bid to support owners of such cars and to spread positive awareness of more energy efficient transportation.

He explained, "We were successful in launching the first phase of this project, which saw the installation of 100 electric car-charging stations in numerous business districts, retail centres, hospitals, main streets as well as government establishment across Sharjah."

The Chairman of SUPC added, "Building a city’s identity is an art as well as science. Since, it is based on data and urban growth rates, as well as foresight on the future of residential, commercial, industrial communities and other sectors. It is our responsibility towards every citizen, resident and visitor, to add value to enhance the social fabric of Sharjah."

On SUPC’s key plans and projects, Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, said, "SUPC launched the Sharjah Postal Code project three years ago. The project was designed to benefit both individuals and businesses alike to easily find specific locations. The project provides a free application that operates on any smartphone. It also improves delivery services and enables people to find the right location quickly."

"The council collaborated with Google to implement the Google Street View project in Sharjah, which enables internet users in the UAE and across the world to browse the Emirate of Sharjah virtually and roam online through its streets, districts, monuments and landmarks, allowing them to explore Sharjah through high-resolution 360-degree panoramic imagery," he added.

"The council also worked on and approved designs of five pedestrian bridges in five different areas in Sharjah in collaboration with the Sharjah Roads and Transport Authority, SRTA. The bridges are being built at King Faisal Street, King Abdul Aziz, Al Ittihad, and Al Taawun. The bridges ensure safe crossing and include elevators as well as shaded pedestrian walkways," stressed the Chairman of SUPC.

"The five bridges have an inclusive design that considers all users, including children, senior citizens, as well as differently-abled persons. Building pedestrian bridges align with SUPC’s efforts to elevate the quality of services and enhancement of the well-being of Sharjah’s residents and visitors," he added.

Regarding the bus stops project, Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, said, "The SUPC is collaborating with the SRTA and SEWA to implement the project. It comprises building air-conditioned bus stops at different locations in Sharjah. The bus stops will be supplied with solar energy through solar panels. This will encourage Sharjah’s residents and visitors to use public transport in line with our efforts to develop and implement a variety of environment-friendly projects that reinforce sustainability."

Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi also addressed the sanitary sewer and storm-water drainage system upgrade, which was developed in collaboration with the Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Directorate of Public Works and the Sharjah Department of Town Planning and Survey, which he described as "substantial and vital project".

The aim is to improve the efficiency and performance of sewage treatment plants in Sharjah, as well as increasing their capacity to cope with the emirate’s current and future needs, in light of population growth and urban expansion.

The project includes renovating the main sanitary sewer system in the emirate to improve its efficiency. Also, it will expand the main sewage treatment plant in Sharjah by establishing additional drainage points to address the problem of rainwater runoff in many areas in the emirate of Sharjah.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi then spoke about the University City Road improvement project, "Extending over three kilometres and covering approximately 52,000 square metres, the project improves the public realm with natural landscapes, service amenities and facilities, public parking, and dedicated parking areas for all age groups including differently-abled persons, as well as safe pedestrian walkways," he noted.

He pointed out that the design meets the best international standards, which will enhance the commercial area that connects Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road to the University City.

Sheikh Khalid Al Qasimi said, "Among other projects that encourage a healthy lifestyle in Sharjah is the Jogging and Cycling Track Network project. The multi-phased project envisions an integrated network of cycling and jogging tracks covering the entire emirate. The first phase will include the development of cycle and jogging paths along the city’s waterfront to boost the stature of Sharjah as an attractive destination to live, work and play. Subsequent phases will include, Emirati neighbourhoods and other areas."

The SUPC Chairman stated, "The Sharjah Beach development project is one of the largest projects developed and implemented by the SUPC. The project will transform the public realm along the 3.3-kilometre Sharjah Beach Road that connects Ajman border to Sharjah Ladies Club, SLC, into a family and tourist destination, as well as one of the most prominent hotspots among the youths in Sharjah. A prime venue for social engagement that will add to making Sharjah a premier leisure, tourist, and family destination."

He highlighted, "The project entails a variety of public plazas, pedestrian paths, bike lanes, picnic places, seating areas, shading structures, public art areas, and water features along the entire route. The project also provides all required service amenities such as restrooms, shower facilities, prayer areas, and a bicycle parking system with about 1,100 vehicle parking spaces provided on both sides of the road."

Sheikh Khalid said, "It is crucial to preserve the cultural and historical identity, including the Arab and Islamic features of the emirate of Sharjah. By preserving and renovating old buildings and souqs we protect the collective memory that exemplifies Sharjah and its residents. At the same time, we seek to highlight the modern manifestation, represented by premium quality service and world-class infrastructure."

He said in conclusion that with strategic planning and efficient implementation one can improve the future of Sharjah. Through partnerships and collaboration with all entities relevant to real estate, urban planning, infrastructure, transport, information, and services, Sharjah can preserve its collective memory and forge ahead to elevate the social, cultural and economic stature of Sharjah.

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