This year’s subdued show reveals both how much has been accomplished, and how much there is still to do

There were no celebrity appearances, no unveilings of new 100-storey megaprojects. The major developers, whose stand designs alone have taken the breath away in previous years, showed the new pragmatism with mock-up apartments in the place of thrilling building models. Instead of selling properties on what they look like from the outside, they are selling them on what they will be like to live in. And this makes a lot of sense.

The event was quieter than in years gone by, which is hardly surprising given the financial crisis and the Icelandic volcano keeping many of the Europeans at home, but as always there were interesting discussions to be had around the exhibits and stalls. The show has changed dramatically from what it was 2 years ago. Instead of hordes of eager investors packing the floors, keen to get in on the booming property market, we now have a more considered business-to-business event where architects, engineers, developers and suppliers can meet to discuss ongoing projects. And this makes a lot of sense too.

Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2010

There was also a continued focus on “sustainable development”, both in energy efficiency and in long-term thinking. The most interesting stand at the show was the impressive Abu Dhabi 2030 plan model of the whole city, which brought home the scale of the Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council vision. Only when looking at this can you see how much has been accomplished, but still how much is planned to do. I read somewhere that the 2030 plan is considered the most advanced of its kind in the developing world. Looking at it at Cityscape, I would be surprised if there were many more ambitious anywhere in the world.