Task force to guide development

A new planning task force will help to co-ordinate all major developments in the western region of Abu Dhabi.

A road cuts through the desert new in the western region of Abu Dhabi where a new task force will oversee development.
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AL GHARBIA // A new planning task force will help to co-ordinate all major developments in the burgeoning western region of Abu Dhabi. This week, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, visited Al Gharbia to inspect major new developments and to speak to residents. Following his visit, it was announced that a new body would unite all stakeholders in the region's future with the aim of bringing together a united vision for Al Gharbia. An initial workshop was held this week outlining some of the major projects being prepared in the region, which constitutes 83 per cent of the emirate and more than 70 per cent of the country.

The session, organised by the Western Region Development Council (WRDC), was attended by more than 120 people, including officials from the oil and gas industry, development companies and the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which are behind ambitious tourist projects in the area. The workshop was followed by a two-day visit by Sheikh Khalifa, who oversaw some of the developments taking place in the region and held an open diwan for residents to speak to him at Sheikh Khalifa Palace in Liwa.

The task force will be managed by the WRDC, the Western Region Municipality and the Urban Planning Council (UPC), the regulatory body set up last year to oversee all major developments in Abu Dhabi emirate. It will meet at regular intervals to ensure all bodies are informed of progress in improving the infrastructure of the region, and are consistent in their approach to one of the country's most underdeveloped areas.

Mohamed al Mazrouei, the director general of the WRDC, said: "I cannot stress enough the importance of all the entities working for Al Gharbia keeping each other informed of their progress to ensure that we are all on the same page. "The Al Gharbia planning task force will ensure that all plans and projects for the region are well co-ordinated and in line with the requirements of Al Gharbia's people.

"It is also necessary that all information and updates, including any studies or surveys conducted in the region, are communicated with all entities involved to enable growth and help us achieve our overall plan for success effectively." The WRDC was set up to improve the lives of people in Al Gharbia, with a focus on better education, infrastructure and health care. Among the subjects discussed at the first task force meeting were building projects taking place in the Ruwais, Jebel Dhanna and Shuwaihat areas.

In May, The National reported that the region was also likely to get an improved air service, with plans to expand the airport at Jebel Dhanna. Recommendations for the airport expansion were made by Ameri Flight to the task force at its first session. Jebel Dhanna will also be at the forefront of some of the most ambitious developments in the region, with thousands of jobs to be created at new tourism destinations in the town and on nearby Dalma and Sir Bani Yas islands.

Improvements will be made to a 327km, eight-lane motorway, the longest in the country, linking the eastern parts of Abu Dhabi emirate to the Saudi border. It will be completed by 2011 and will link Mafraq and Ghuweifat, creating hundreds of jobs. Officials from the Urban Planning Council were yesterday unavailable for comment on the developments. @Email:rhughes@thenational.ae