The research focuses on the relationship between economic growth, transport infrastructure development, and environmental degradation. It includes quantitative data such as geographic information system (GIS) maps that display the transport networks of the northern Emirates in the United Arab Emirates and qualitative data such as interviews with key personnel from the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. Given the expected economic growth in the northern emirates more generally and the development of the transport sector more specifically, policies and practices are proposed to curb the inevitable impact on the environment.
The main research object is to examine the relationship between economic growth, transport infrastructure development, and environmental degradation in the northern emirates of the United Arab Emirates. The authors use a combination of “extensive” and “intensive” concrete research designs. The extensive research method was used to collect primary quantitative data using GIS maps to determine the extent of the development of the current transport system in the northern emirates and evaluate its suitability in terms of addressing issues related to economic growth and the effects on environmental degradation. The intensive research method was used to collect qualitative data by conducting interactive interviews to understand the policies that have been adopted by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, which adhere to the overall development of the infrastructure in the UAE, and take into consideration issues that are related to environmental degradation.
The most important conclusions show that economic growth in the United Arab Emirates and the spillover to the less developed northern emirates includes significant development of the transport infrastructure. Infrastructure development in the northern emirates, however, has been ad hoc with little in terms of planning and proper assessment of the effects on the environment.
The result has been uneven outcomes, where some places benefit from excellent links to larger settlements while others are poorly connected. In addition is the lack of public transport, which not only results in greater use of private transport but also does not provide sufficient transportation options.
A reliable public transport is necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, serve local residents and tourists, reduce traffic in the city centers, provide greater accessibility to services, reduce air pollution, and decrease the number of roads required.
The authors make three recommendations:
First, decisions regarding transport development must be based on proper assessment of the needs of the public. Inexpensive solutions, such as busing instead of rail, may bring very effective outcomes in terms of covering a larger area and serving more people.
Second, more attention is required in the northern emirates where currently an effective public transport system does not exist. This requires more coordinated efforts at both the federal and emirate levels of governments. An effective way forward is for local planners to work with politicians in the development of a plan.
Third, studies are required that identify the impact on the environment of a new public transport system.
This may require the development of or revision of existing procedures and practices. Much of the existing theoretical framework within the academic literature may be used to understand similar scenarios from around the world as these provide examples from other regions struggling with similar challenges.In terms of learning outcomes, audiences including academic and the public, will learn about the necessary relationship that exists among factors such as rapid economic growth, transport development and activity, and environmental degradation.
Although the study focuses on the northern emirates, an emerging economic region in the United Arab Emirates, the lessons may be applied to other emerging economic regions in the world. The study provides a balanced approach to addressing environmental degradation by devising effective policies and practices that allow the continued development of the transport sector while reducing the impact on the environment.