ABU DHABI // A prayer ground in the capital has been turned into a large bus depot as part of the city’s urban planning strategy.
The ground, which is a popular place for Eid prayers in the Al Musalla area, just off Airport Road, has been closed and converted into what is now called Karama Depot, which can house more than 250 Department of Transport (DoT) buses.
While some residents in the area were unhappy about the move, most understood the reasons why such action was taken.
The ground was a large, open area exposed to the sun and without amenities, but now residents use Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the finest mosques in the world.
Emirati Marzouq Al Menhali said: "Our traditions and cultures are attached to old structures so, when we lose them, we miss them. But due to the rapidly growing population of Abu Dhabi, a bigger place with wider facilities was needed.
"Now the Grand Mosque can accommodate all worshippers, so that is good."
Another Emirati, Ayman Al Hashmi, said: “Before we used to pray Eid prayers here but now we go to Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is far better than this place and is equipped with world-class facilities, as well as air-conditioning.
“Here, we had to pray under the sun but now we pray inside the air-conditioned, magnificent halls.”
Salem Obaid Al Rashidi said he will miss being able to pray in his area but he is happy to use the Grand Mosque.
“Of course it was good to catch Eid prayers in our own vicinity,” he said. “But I am not disheartened as it’s been replaced by a world-class monument, which suits Eid prayers.”
The bus depot is the second on Abu Dhabi island, after the main bus terminal, and the fifth in the city as a whole, with three located off-island at Mussaffah, Baniyas and Shahama.
The walled depot has now been equipped with a range of facilities for bus maintenance, technical fixtures, safety inspections, washing and fuelling.
Saeed Mohammed Fadel Al Hameli, the acting director of the organisational development division at DoT, said: “It’s now called Karama Depot and it’s been in full operation from June this year.
“The DoT submitted a land request to the Urban Planning Council and we got the land. I don’t know the history.
“It’s a government decision in the interest of everybody living in Abu Dhabi.”