Buzzing around Masdar City in Electric Pod Cars

This was fun!

In April 2015, I was visiting Abu Dhabi for a conference and had a day off. Previously, I covered my visit to the Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque (Link) and the Emirates Palace (Link). My first stop on the free day was to visit Masdar City and to see what the fuss was all about 🙂

The accommodation was at Al Raha Beach Hotel – one of the best hotels ever and super expensive at the same time. Thanks to all inclusive invitations!!

View outside the Al Raha hotel

Al Raha Hotel

Taxi is the best mode of transport and I reached Masdar City at about 10 am. Being late April, it was already super hot and dry! Very important to be hydrated.

The entrance is a large parking lot and once you pass through the doors, lo and behold. Automatic car pods. I never travelled in an electric vehicle before, let alone a self driving one.

Personal Rapid Transit


Even though it was a Sunday, there were just a handful of tourists. The pods transport people from the entrance to the institute (Masdar Institute of Science and Technology) which is located in Masdar city.

Masdar city is actually a planned city project which started construction in 2006. The idea was to house 50 000 people and more than 1000 businesses on an area of 6 square km by 2016. By the time I visited, less than 5% was complete and still a lot had to be done.

I had to wait till the pods reach their station and the green light is lit. Once inside, you press a button to your destination – this time it was only one place to go.

Inside the PRT

The doors slide, the pod reverses and the journey begins. They follow a magnetic path embedded in the road – one path for onward and return journey. I was surprised at the speed – it was travelling at more than 30 km/h. I had no control whatsoever, and thankfully, they had some sort of a sensor which detected vehicles ahead and slowed down. The total trip was barely a minute or so, but was super fun. It drops you at the institute.

The Masdar institute recently shifted to the city along with IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency). There was also a bank and other companies with their office space in the same building.

There is no entrance fee and I could just walk right in. The first thing that strikes is the architecture. Built with red bricks, all the buildings look very unconventional.

External facade, Masdar City

We had a course on built environment and some of the architecture made sense.

Buildings at Masdar CityBuildings at Masdar City 4Buildings at Masdar City 3Buildings at Masdar City 2

Funnily enough, there was a tall wind tower right in the middle of the city. It would have been good to know more about the idea behind the architecture and the environment.

Wind tower, Masdar City

Overall, a short and interesting visit.

Some other pics:

At Personal Rapid Transit, Abu Dhabi

Inside the Masdar City

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