Abu Dhabi is a rapidly expanding Emirate with a vast mix of cultures. Local Emiratis make up approximately 15% of the Abu Dhabi population. With the shift of focus moving away from a reliance on oil revenue to tourism, expanding transport networks and affluent touristy areas are becoming at a heightened risk of terrorist attack. The Emirate has turned to British expertise to provide advice on security and planning to ensure their infrastructure is protected from such attacks.
The Urban Planning Council is a government body established in Abu Dhabi and is responsible for initiating, driving and supporting Abu Dhabi’s urban development strategy. Within the UPC, there is a department responsible for the safety and security of the built environment, and in particular the protection of nationally important sites identified as ‘crowded places’.
There are multiple safety and security handbooks available to guide on security design and considerations. Many offer conflicting advice for planners and specifiers. The UPC decided to commission their own handbook combining community safety, crime prevention and protective security measures looking at holistic best practice and design. The manual has been tailored to Abu Dhabi specifically but has been modelled using UK methodology. The aim of security and safety design being to achieve an appropriate balance of operations, technology and physical security, with an emphasis on sound planning and design from the outset
ATG Access – the British physical security manufacturer hosted a niche security event last week within the British Embassy, Abu Dhabi. Alongside guest speakers from ATG itself, the Urban Planning Council attended as VIP speakers to raise awareness of their extensive security programme.
Mr Stuart Williams, previously from Buro Happold; an engineering consultancy in the UK now serves as the lead adviser to the Safety and Security programme for the UPC and is working with the local security industry in Abu Dhabi to ensure that security works, is fit for purpose and is appropriate for the surrounding environment.
The event was very well attended, testament to the growing security industry across the Middle East. Abu Dhabi, led by British expertise aims to lead the way in security design and planning across the UAE. Planning now for urban development strategies being completed by 2030 allows for innovation in design and the ability to maintain high standards. It also allows for suppliers such as ATG Access to work with design and planning departments to manufacture and test products which meet security objectives.
The program has already won multiple international awards and is even working with the local Abu Dhabi Universities to design a Security Planning Masters programme.