In 2006, the United Arab Emirates initiated the Masdar City project, which was a pre-planned eco-city concentrating on the development and promotion of renewable energy, water and waste management, sustainable building, transportation, and material efficiency. It was the flagship project of what the government considered to be a widespread environmental reform process. This study examines the Masdar City project applying the analytical framework of "ecological modernization" with the help of five "factors", which help to investigate the ongoing reform process. The study finds that Masdar City is more accurately described as an outcome of the Abu Dhabi government’s economic diversification strategy. The project is subject to the political and economic interests of the emirate’s ruling family. Environmental groups operating within the emirate are connected to the government and pursue policy targets determined by the government.