With plans to restart billions of dollars worth of projects, the Abu Dhabi Government recently announced its development plans for the capital city.Once speeding ahead with major projects, Abu Dhabi had slowed development in recent months. Did one then believe that UAE’s capital city had gone bust? Here it goes; the race is still on as Abu Dhabi Government plans to restart billions of dollars worth of projects. Optimistic viewBuilders were in a void as several projects in the pipeline were under review for most of last year. Following this, companies shifted their personnel and resources to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where work was going forward. However, the government’s development plan now gives a reason for construction companies to react with conscious optimism. Find for fundAs reported, there is quite a traffic of work that would have been awarded in the second half of 2011. Construction companies were involved in most of the projects; many had already been put out to bid. Amongst the many big ticket items is the 700,000 sq m terminal for Abu Dhabi International Airport. Also, with things having certainly slowed down last year, in October 2011, the marquee projects in Abu Dhabi’s $27 billion Saadiyat Island development – slated to be the emirate’s cultural hub – were stalled. However, now with the development plan, a budget and timetable has been put in place for construction of the three primary museums, which are scheduled to open in 2015. Similarly, the Executive Council has decided to fund a variety of projects with primary focus on healthcare, infrastructure and education, The miss-outsHowever, in between positive announcements, the council seems to have missed out on a few notable ones. This includes the Capital District - a central element of Abu Dhabi Plan 2030. Often described as the single most important project in the home of the UAE, Capital District is intended to cover 45 sq km and serve as the centre for the federal government. Also, large-scale office and residential developments have been the focus of much of Abu Dhabi’s construction boom in recent years. As reported, there has been no mention of these as well. As Jones Lang LaSalle was quoted in the media, “The announcement suggests a reduction in future releases of real estate supply. Several previously announced, government backed real estate projects have been excluded from the list – emphasising the government’s ongoing rationalisation of real estate supply to establish more stable market conditions.” Surprise element!After all the additions and subtractions, the Executive Council’s list also has room for surprises. In about 2010, Abu Dhabi had revealed its plans for a new metro rail system, which was expected to partially start in 2015. The council has reaffirmed financing for planning a metro and rail system for the city. Also, it unveiled funding of 24 schools, plus six special needs rehabilitation centres; just 13 schools are currently in development. Furthermore, plans have been announced to fund the long-delayed Al Mafrag-Ghuwaifat road project, connecting Abu Dhabi to Saudi Arabia, which could cost Dh 10 billion. Queries remainAlthough the council announced Abu Dhabi’s development plan, a few questions remained unanswered. There remains lack of schedule for the launch of many projects; many have to be re-tendered, after months of delays since bids were accepted. Louvre is assumed to be one such pro-ject where there could be a requirement for renegotiations. In the near future, announcements from the individual departments on their respective budgets and timetables will add to the success of this plan. Contacts awarded and the timing of projects is expected to have long term implication on construction companies. If there remains a gap between the announcements and the period when these projects are executed – as is expected – there could be challenges in terms of retaining skilled resources.What next!An increase in the pace of construction is being witnessed. Will this encourage international companies’ commitment to the UAE? While the market might still witness a delay in the execution of some projects, how will the government benefit from these or will it benefit at all? It’s time to wait and watch!