Dubai will invest over Dh22bn (US$6bn) in infrastructure-related projects in the medium term, with US$4.5bn earmarked for the light rail transit (LRT) development.

Around US$500mn will go for roads and bridges, US$300mn for drainage and irrigation, and US$700mn for general projects.

Dubai’s existing road network stretches 10,000 lane kilometres on an investment of US$2.5bn. It is under continuous expansion and development with over 20 major new projects, including an eight-lane tunnel under the airport and a new 12-lane bridge across Dubai Creek.

The LRT system will stretch 70km with 55 stations. Construction will start in 2005 and the first phase and will be operational in 2010. The second phase will be completed in 2017.

Roads are monitored and managed through an automated traffic control centre. An intelligent transportation system, including a dynamic navigation system and variable sign messages, is under development and will be operational by December 2005.

“Dubai Municipality must stay abreast of this ongoing growth by providing necessary infrastructure and facilities and related services. Our annual budget exceeds US$350mn, with approximately 90% allocated to infrastructure development,” says Mattar Al Tayer, assistant director-general of the Municipality.

Dubai’s total investment in sewage, irrigation and drainage projects exceeds US$1.5bn. “To improve performance, we are building a new sewage treatment plant and undertaking more than 40 projects costing US$300mn in the next five years,” he adds.

Despite a desert climate, he says, Dubai enjoys a very high green area ratio at 20.2 square metres per capita.