AL AIN // An ambitious infrastructure project in Al Ain's downtown district is expected to be completed "very soon", according to civic officials. Before the Al Ain Municipality began its downtown beautification project in May, Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed streets were avenues lined with trees and shrubbery reflecting the city's oasis image. Seven months on, the main thoroughfares through the city are barren.
However, Rashid al Nabadi, one of the engineers in charge of the central district redevelopment plan said work would be completed very soon and the trees and flowers would be replanted. "The department of internal roads and infrastructure development has been studying the plans for the beautification," he said. "Several options are available and the municipality is now deciding on the best landscaping option to take. Replanting the downtown district is of extreme importance to the municipality."
Since the project began, four roundabouts have been converted to traffic-light controlled junctions, while pavements along Sheikh Khalifa Street have been widened. However, the project, which was initially due to be completed in around three months, fell behind schedule, affecting scores of businesses who overnight found themselves without parking for their customers. Early in the project, merchants said sales had dropped by as much as 90 per cent because shoppers had nowhere to park. Ali Jaber, 48, the owner of Al Safadi Restaurant, had complained of the disruption caused to his business. Since then the pavements have been widened and more parking spaces created, and Mr Jaber's business has returned to normal.
Today, traffic cones, warning tape and bricks stacked atop each other are indications that work is still going on. "The traffic cones are necessary to ensure that construction workers are not run over by motorists as the final tiling and repaving works are being completed," Mr al Nabadi said. "The project is in its final stage and once completed the traffic cones and construction equipment will be removed and replanting works will begin."