DUBAI // A Dh1.3 billion plan to turn the mountain city of Hatta into a world-class tourist destination was announced on Monday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
The plan includes hundreds of homes for Emiratis, green areas for winter sports and a mountain track circuit, said Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. It also includes a cultural festival and scholarships for young people.
Sheikh Mohammed stressed the importance of using natural resources to broaden the economy while preserving the environment, and of the role played by youths in future development.
“We support them to unleash their positive energy and assist them to identify the opportunities to access the job market through unconventional paths, mainly in entrepreneurship,” he said.
The project will focus on economy and services, tourism and sport, and education and culture.
A hydroelectric power station, the first of its kind in the GCC, will be built to use water stored in the Hajjar Mountains, next to Al Hattawi Dam, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority said.
Solar-powered water turbines will pump water from a lower reservoir to one higher, generating electricity for Dewa’s grid. It is expected to produce 250 megawatts over 60 to 80 years.
The project will create more than 2,000 jobs and 200 permanent administrative and technical positions after it is finished, said Saeed Al Tayer, managing director and chief executive of Dewa.
Another 300 jobs will be created for a visitor and tourist centre, accommodation and other facilities.
Over the next two years, 400 homes for Emiratis will be built in Hatta, an enclave of Dubai, along with landscaping using local trees to improve air quality.
Youths are being encouraged to start businesses under the supervision of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation.
Sports tourism will be promoted through developing green areas for camps and sports venues, including a mountain bike circuit that can host international competitions.
Officials will work with archaeologists and restorers to preserve Hatta’s heritage, restore its ruins and renovate farm homes to provide accommodation for visitors. Historical sites there date back to the second half of the third millennium BC.
Scholarships will be provided to Hatta’s youths, particularly in agriculture and veterinary services, to help them to develop the community. A health camp and an annual Hatta Cultural Festival will also be established.
Nicholas Campos, resident manager at Hatta Fort hotel, said the plan would “bring Hatta into the map of world tourism”.
“The place has an enormous potential for being one of the best tourist spots in the world,” said Mr Campos, 52, a Canadian who has lived in Hatta for more than two years.
“The whole plan is very impressive and will change the lives of people here.”
A launch event was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, and other notables.
Dubai Government organisations including the municipality, Dewa, the Roads and Transport Authority and Dubai Sports Council are playing their parts in the plan.