Located southeast of Abu Dhabi in the middle of the sprawling desert, Masdar City appears like a mirage. Ground broke on the city in 2008 with the aim of creating the world’s most sustainable eco-city. During the hot summer months, temperatures on the streets of Masdar City run as much as 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celcius) cooler than in downtown Abu Dhabi, thanks to a giant wind tower channeling a refreshing breeze through the city’s streets.
Rooftop solar panels — making up one of the largest systems in the Middle East — harness the powerful sun rays to create clean energy to power the city. While only a few thousand people live and work there now, the project is expected to eventually house 40,000 people, with another 50,000 who commute in to work and study.
The city is open daily and can be explored in a couple of hours. Once visitors arrive in the parking area, a driverless vehicle whisks them across the city as part of Masdar’s personal rapid transit system. The city currently houses a dozen eateries, including a Mexican restaurant, coffee shop and sushi joint, with more moving in all the time.