Mina Plaza demolition: Abu Dhabi tears down towers in seconds ahead of port regeneration

The blast was heard across the capital as four towers and 144 floors were razed to the ground

Latest: 6,000kg of explosives and 18,000 detonators - how engineers blew up Mina Plaza towers in 10 seconds

Abu Dhabi's Mina Plaza was brought tumbling to the ground in seconds on Friday as the capital looks to usher in a new vision for the port district.

Construction of the complex began in 2007, but more than a decade later the still-unfinished towers at Mina Port disappeared in a flash of explosive charge.

The city's planners have a better and bolder vision for the new site, which will transform the district into a bustling market, entertainment and shopping destination.

The capital's residents woke to the sound of THUD THUD THUD as charges caused the structures to implode with precision.

Smoke and dust spread into the closed streets around the site but dissipated in the cool morning breeze.

The whiff of cordite - the smokeless explosive that has long replaced gunpowder - hung in the air.

Despite a flurry of publicity in recent days, a couple of sleepy-eyed social media users woke with a start on Friday morning, when the capital normally dozes after a long working week, and asked 'what was that?!'

The market district adjacent to Mina Plaza has long been a bargain hunter's dream.

Rugs and carpets carefully crafted by hand in Iran and Afghanistan sell for a fraction of the price that department stores charge. Solid furniture made to last a lifetime was on offer, while other traders eek out an existence by selling knick-knacks to visitors.

Traders were initially told they must vacate the site while at least 18 months of redevelopment took place - but many were given a reprieve and will be able to stay open, where possible, as work progresses.

Latifah Nakiganda, a candle-maker from Uganda, will miss shopping from the plant market while regeneration work takes place.

The 27-year-old works at Ameena’s Pink Series shop in the carpet market.

The alternative would be to shop from the plant market across town in Khalifa City, over the bridge on the mainland. She has grown to love the Mina Plaza area during the nine months she has worked there.

"I love walking to the sea shore and watching the sunset. Just in front of the shop there are a few rocks that you can climb and watch the sea," she told The National.

Ms Nakiganda said the store was quiet in recent days as road blocks were set up ahead of the buildings coming down.

Rahma Shah has helped out at his father’s shop, which sells bedding and blankets, since he was seven.

“I grew up in the shop,” said the 23-year-old from Pakistan.

He took over his father’s business – Abu Najib for Blankets and Quilts, eight years ago, and has been taking care of the shop since then.

“I like this place, everyone here is my friend.

“When I was a child I used to come here just to sit around the shop and play outside.”

Mr Shah favours the location, close to the city's cruise ship terminal, as it brings good business from residents and tourists.

"Some are regular, some are new; there is always traffic," he said.

His shop is located at the end of the port area, which should escape much of the disruption from building works.

Mr Shah said he would feel nostalgic to see the old markets go, “but change is good as well - and the new project will be nice."

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS