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!