Saturday, November 24, 2007

Growth of Abu Dhabi, Revisited

There is a lovely place to walk along the Arabian Gulf, on the southeast side of the island of Abu Dhabi. Called the "New Corniche," it's a brick-paved path that goes for a few miles. Pagodas and fountains adorn the lawns on one side of this walkway, the aquamarine Gulf lies on the other.

Every time I drive along the New Corniche I inhale slowly and feel myself unwind. Unfortunately, the path was bordered up recently, the view of the Gulf obstructed, to prepare for construction of a new residential/resort development there.

I lament changes here because I love Abu Dhabi just the way it is: a quiet, yet cosmopolitan city where people from all over the world live peacefully and one often runs into someone he knows. The predicted tripling of the population will surely lessen the small-community feeling here, not to mention the decrease of open spaces.

But I haven't met an Emirati (a local) who is opposed to Abu Dhabi's growth. They accept it, it seems, without question. Maybe they're right. Perhaps Abu Dhabi must grow fast.

The housing shortage, for example, is talked about everywhere. At the hair salon I overhear someone say she has to move because her landlord wants her villa for "a close family member," but she suspects he wants to turn over the property to raise the rent. Others, newly arrived, are living long-term in the city's luxury hotels, paying the daily rate, because they can't find housing or the housing they've found isn't ready yet. Some say there aren't enough schools to serve all the ex-patriate families who plan to move here. All these issues are being addressed, but in this time of transition, some are feeling the crunch.

To be sure, Abu Dhabi's growth includes the promise that it will be a place steeped in cultural attractions. In the next 15 years or so, nearby Saadiyat Island will erect an Abu Dhabi Louvre, an Abu Dhabi Guggenheim, a world-class performing arts center, a maritime museum, and a museum of UAE history.

So I'll try to keep an open mind when next I see a beautiful view screened for construction. I have to admit, they do make an effort to make the barricades attractive.

Another day with a high of 82 degrees!


Land-Frau said...

I am certain,those people will be wiser than the Spaniards. They have realized too late, that pouring concrete all over the shoreline does not really improve tourism nor the environment.

Frances Gunnison said...

I hope so. Beautiful, natural open space is absolutely vital for a civilized society! As a teen, when I spent two summers in London with my grandmother, I how much I enjoyed spending afternoons under a gentle sun in Hyde Park. My grandmother's flat was attractive but small; if I hadn't had the Park things wouldn't have been nearly as good for me.

Rakib said...

I also like abu dhabi a lot, I was there about 10 years ago with my parents, that time i was 18. My father still lives there. I love that place a lot. I use to catch fish in the evening with my friends in the cornice beach side. We live there in Lulu Street in the Chicken Tikka Building, i don't know if that building is still there or new one is constructed. But i am a FAN of Abu Dhabi, I will go there if my father wants. Missing you Abu Dhabi...