Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Masdar City Market

This past weekend we attended a street fair and organic market in Masdar City. Masdar City is a university, a place to live, a place to shop and a place to set up a business - all focused on sustainability and creating luxury with the smallest carbon footprint possible. They are doing a ton of experiments and research on renewable energy sources and anything that reduces, reuses and recycles. The point of the market was to build awareness of the area and the work they are doing and establish a marketplace of organic goods and green services. Since that sounded right up our alley, we went out for a visit on Friday morning.

The city itself does not allow any cars, so when we arrived, we were directed to a parking area outside the walls. We could already tell the place was packed as all the nice parking (paved with shaded covers) was full. We ended up in the full sun in a large patch of sandy dirt. So, we put up our back window shade (part of the fancy car) and our cheap little sun shade for the front and headed to the city, which was less than a 5 minute walk. As you can see below, they are still expanding and completing the city. The large tower you see in the middle is the wind turbine, which provides a lot of power to the city.

Once we got to the city entrance, we got in line for the Personal Rapid Transit. These are really cute little cars that are unmanned and powered by electricity . They have a set route in and then out of the city and they make the trip all on their own. Pretty cool and very futuristic feeling. As you can imagine, my engineer husband loved them. :) And they were pretty amazing - you get in, press the button on the console and like magic is takes you to the next station within the city. The one way trip was about 2-3 minutes.

Once in the city itself, we filled out our raffle tickets and Brian got in line for the free popcorn. I checked out a vendor selling water systems that pull the moisture from the air. The water tastes just like you would expect from a cooler and the whole concept was pretty cool. Unfortunately, the price tag was what I've come to expect from all the 'green' gadgets out there - a residential unit started at 4500 dirham (about $1225)!! YIKES

We just wandered around a bit. There actually wasn't a lot there and the place was much smaller than I expected, but there was an organic market, a few coffee shops, a smoothie stand and a few booths selling everything from fabrics to foods to skin products. They also had some face painting and other kid friendly activities. There were people everywhere and long lines for everything, so we took our walk around the area and then headed out. They actually were offering a tour of the city, which we would have really liked to attend, but we would have had to wait around for and hour and a half and the crowds were just too annoying for us to consider it. I'm hoping they'll do it again and we'll have a chance to take the tour. I think it would be interesting to see more of the research they are doing. Here's a shot of the city itself.

We took the Personal Rapid Transit back out of the city and headed off to our car. And, after about 5 wrong turns and an extra 20 minutes, we found our way out of the complex and back onto the road home.  Getting lost is now just part of the journey here. :)

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