The Western Region of Abu Dhabi is hoping to open up a network of air routes in an attempt to attract investors and residents to the remote Al Gharbia area.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Cityscape Abu Dhabi property show yesterday, Salem Abdulla bin Shabib, who works for the Western Region Development Authority (WRDA), said the move was "under serious discussion".
Currently Rotana Jet runs a small aircraft service from Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi to Dalma Island in the Western Region from Dh200 (US$54) a ticket. Mr bin Shabib said that the council was in discussions, which were "at the conceptual phase", with the Department of Transport to open up more small runways across the region.
"One of the big problems we face in Al Gharbia is that the cities are so spread out and we are looking at ways of connecting them to the rest of the UAE so that we can bring in more development," he said at a presentation on the investment road map for the region.
"Etihad Rail will support the region in phases two and three to bring passengers and cargo but we are also under discussions with airlines to open Al Gharbia up to the rest of the UAE."
The project is part of an ambitious plan by the WRDA to attract developers and investors to the region, which is often viewed by residents in the capital as a remote backwater. The region struggles to retain many of its locals who are attracted by city life elsewhere in the country.
The Western Region occupies 60 per cent of the land mass of Abu Dhabi and contains 7.1 per cent of the world's oil reserves but is home to only 9 per cent of the population.
WRDA is hoping to partner with private sector developers to develop hundreds of homes in more than eight community facilities in the region by offering to lease space in office buildings developed as part of complexes that will also include shops, health clubs and apartments.
The first project, which is scheduled to be completed in Madinat Zayed later this year by the local developer NTCC, will comprise 120 apartments, 2,000 square metres of offices, a health club, shops, a cafe and a gym.
Two more community projects are at the design approval stage and at least five more have been proposed.
Next month WRDA plans to hold an event at the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi promoting the schemes to developers from elsewhere in the UAE.