AL AIN // The area around the new Hazza bin Zayed Stadium is to be transformed into a sports zone to promote healthy living.
The 25,000-seat arena – the new home of Al Ain Football Club – is to be finished by the middle of next month.
Details of the additional 500 square-metre sports facility were announced on Sunday by the developer, Al Qattara Investments.
“The whole project has been planned to reflect the principles of health and well-being and encourage a more sporting life,” said the developer.
Among the attractions will be a huge gymnasium Al Qattara said would be the biggest in Abu Dhabi.
The sports zone will also include a swimming pool, international hotel, 50 restaurants and retail outlets, offices and a 700-unit apartment complex.
A plaza leading to the stadium will cater to cyclists, joggers and walkers.
Al Qattara is accepting applications for leasing the commercial and residential spaces.
“The multi-use project is part of a vision of building a touristic, social and sports destination that includes Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and the area surrounding it, to foster ongoing growth and development in Al Ain and UAE,” the developer said.
“The project will also include a healthy lifestyle area with a number of sports zones and a dedicated pool and gymnasium considered to be the biggest of its kind in Abu Dhabi emirate.”
The plans were welcomed by some residents, although some questioned the demand for such a development.
Antti Lehto, a Finnish online marketing manager who has lived in Al Ain for two years, said: “Maybe it sounds very good if there is promoting of the healthier way of living. That is always a good thing.
“But in Al Ain, there is more development than probably would be demand.”
Mr Lehto said he did not know about the larger plans for the stadium area. He wondered about the demand for the developments in the area and whether Al Ain attractions could compete with Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
However, he said it might attract Al Ain residents.
“It’s very nice if they are trying to promote this healthy way of living and build infrastructure for the people to work there,” Mr Lehto said.
At 50 metres tall, the three-tiered stadium will be one of the tallest buildings in Al Ain.
It will also have a mobile roof that can cover the playing field during the summer.
The stadium will open with a three-day, family-orientated festival from January 16 to 18. Organisers hope the Big Kick Off event attracts families and children to active, healthy pastimes, with BMX biking, bungee runs and juggling.
The stadium area is not the only part of Al Ain being developed.
In September, the city launched 10 infrastructure projects for parks, roads and car parks, including a roundabout and tunnel. They were part of Al Ain Municipality’s five-year strategic plan, to be completed in 2017.
Another major Al Ain attraction, Al Ain Zoo, is being expanded to become Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort. An environmental educational building, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, has been built on the same grounds as the zoo and is expected to open to the public sometime next year.