- savings in cooling costs and, in turn, energy consumption and environmental emissions;
- reduced pavement fatigue cracking and other distress, and therefore public asset maintenance costs;
- to the extent that shade supports physical activity, it has the potential to lead to improved health and reduce the risk of a wide range of diseases;
- to the extent that shade makes public spaces more attractive and useable, it makes urban areas more liveable and, therefore, more productive in the knowledge economy.
This paper adds to this list by exploring how shade can increase the effective capacity of tourism assets. It does this by highlighting the stress that Dubai’s key tourist area, the Dubai Creek, is currently under and how this is expected to increase dramatically in future given Dubai’s targeted tourist yields. It then furthers the argument by:
- demonstrating the marked seasonality of Dubai’s tourism market;
- linking this seasonality with extreme temperature conditions (refer Figures 1 and 2);
- examining existing shade patterns surrounding the Dubai Creek, specifically surrounding the known tourism routes between key visitor attractions;
- highlighting the level of shade protection afforded along these routes in different seasons of the year.
The paper then takes a speculative approach to quantifying the value to the Dubai economy if the shade conferred could be lengthened and, in doing so, making it more enjoyable for tourists to navigate their way around the Dubai Creek attractions.
Tourist comfort zones
Modelling by the WSP Group, undertaken in Abu Dhabi, was briefly explored to see how different built forms/interventions could be applied to bring temperatures into tourist ‘comfort zones’, without compromising the amenity of the environment that constitutes the very offer that makes it appealing. The paper concludes that it is likely that improved shading, through shade structures, vegetation and/or arcading, may well be able to overcome the climatic challenges in the autumn and spring months. Explicit here is the recognition that increased shading is insufficient to render the Dubai Creek attractive to tourists in the peak of summer. Placing a value on these benefits was also speculative but was well informed by known tourist visitation and expenditure patterns. Certainly the role of Dubai as an international aviation hub was key here in that there is real potential to attract tourists for short stays, as they connect to other destinations. After examining all the data, it was assumed that 20% of the current tourists in May and October would extend their stays in Dubai for half a day. This would lead to a commensurate lift in their expenditure which would eventually flow through to GDP enhancements.
The estimates that resulted were around US$20 million for each and every year, certainly making it worthwhile to further exploring the built forms/interventions. And of course these quantified benefits exclude any additional benefits that might be associated with the dot points in the first paragraph.