Corniche beach to be reopened this month

The Corniche public beach, closed for several weeks for redevelopment and expansion, will reopen in time for the grand prix, officials said yesterday.

16/09/2009 - Abu Dhabi, UAE - Workers from the National Marine Dredging Company are currently redeveloping and expanding the public beach on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi.   (Andrew Henderson / The National) *** Local Caption ***  ah_090916_Beach_088.jpg
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // The Corniche public beach, which has been closed for several weeks for redevelopment and expansion, will reopen in time for the capital's inaugural Formula One Grand Prix, officials said yesterday. The Urban Planning Council said the "enhanced" beach would reopen by October 16.

The announcement will be welcomed by residents who questioned why the man-made beach needed to be upgraded so soon after its opening and by business people who say the closure has affected their trade. The council announced its plans to rebuild the Dh105 million (US$28.5m) beach in July, just a year after it opened to the public. Football pitches, volleyball courts, cycle paths and a skateboard park are planned under the renovation scheme.

Food kiosks and an ice-cream shop at a paved area on the original beach had been removed and would be replaced by new outlets, the council said. A builder for the National Marine Dredging Company said excavators and dump lorries were hauling sand from the existing beach to help fill about 1.75km of new beachfront. "Before, umbrellas, tables, all this side," he said, gesturing towards the opposite end of the beach. "Now, all removed for new beach."

Bundles of industrial pipes laid in the sand, which was overrun by excavators and heavy lorries. A site clerk described the project as "a redevelopment and extension to improve the beach. We're taking the old sand and putting in new sand. There was lots of stones in the old sand." The acting project manager declined to comment. Abu Dhabi Municipality referred inquiries to the planning council. Redevelopment work on the beach began on August 15. Some residents, however, wondered whether it was necessary.

They said the original swimming beach, sculpted from nearly 13,000 cubic metres of sand filling, had been opened just a year earlier and to much fanfare. I thought it was fine the way it was," said Alison Whitehead, 44, an Australian housewife. "It's only been a year." Mrs Whitehead said she had used the public facilities only once but, if the beach was improved, she would like to see more shaded, grassy areas.

Mary Jane Cailles, 37, a housemaid from the Philippines, said: "I used [the beach] once before and it was nice. Now I ask myself what they are doing because they just finished building that one, and now it looks like they removed it. Even my boss asked what happened after only one year." Mohammed Talab, the executive chef for the Special chain of shisha cafes and restaurants, one of which is directly across from the public beach, estimates that he has lost about 40 per cent of his business since the beach rebuilding began. "They broke the route to renovate this beach, so now traffic is too much," he said.

Mr Talab and his friends used to swim at the beach several times a month. "I had no complaints about the old one," he said. mkwong@thenational.ae jhenzell@thenational.ae