We’ve been living in our New York City bubble as usual of late, but now and then stories come along that remind us there is some truly massive development going on in other parts of the world as well. Particularly in the United Arab Emirates, where they build entirely man-made islands, including this newly-planned, Rem Koolhaas-designed island, which will “simulate the density of Manhattan” and feature a decidedly Death Star-like hotel.

Another plan in the works in UAE is Madsar City, “a $22 billion initiative to build a brand new, zero-emissions city for 50,000 from scratch in Abu Dhabi.” (Rendering from Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners shown here).

Yesterday, sustainability blog Treehugger.com posted a not-to-be-missed roundtable discussion with some leading thinkers on planning and sustainability about this project. A sample question from the discussion: “What kind of city will Masdar be? Based on the material that has come out in the press, Masdar would appear to be an extremely commercialized city populated by imported foreigners and totally disconnected from its local surroundings. Is this sustainable?” The panel has some great insight in how to (and how not to) create a sustainable city. Check it out.

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