ABU DHABI //Residents in outlying neighbourhoods have welcomed a Dh3 billion plan to build community centres.
Areas such as Shahama and Mohammed Bin Zayed City have few amenities, and residents have to drive to Abu Dhabi island for them.
On March 24, Abu Dhabi Municipality announced plans to enlist the help of private investors to build almost 40 new community centres around the city.
The centres will be either neighbourhood or district, depending on population density, and feature shops, sporting and educational centres, libraries, restaurants, cafes and government services where people can pay bills.
Work is expected to begin this year on 20 of the neighbourhood centres, with the other eight and the 10 district centres planned to be completed by 2016.
Each neighbourhood centre will cost between Dh30 million and Dh40m, and the district centres Dh120m to Dh150m. No public funding will be allocated.
"When we moved here six years back the area was entirely deserted," said Abdul Aziz, an Emirati who lives in MBZ City.
"After six years the population increased rapidly but you still cannot find any facility here.
"One can roam around the entire Mohammed Bin Zayed City but would not find any public facility park, garden, coffee shop or a supermarket."
Mr Aziz said the area had only two grocery shops, one of which was closed for renovations as part of the Baqala upgrade.
"If I want to get my car washed and polished I rush to Khalifa City A or Abu Dhabi," Mr Aziz said. Delma and Mazyad malls are a 30-minute drive away.
He said a community centre in his neighbourhood would be welcomed but, for him, the icing on the cake would be a library and coffee shop.
Elsewhere in MBZ City, Faris Khalil, who works for the Armed Forces, said people in the area had not been happy with the lack of facilities.
"If the municipality is planning anything for the area, it will be a great respite," Mr Khalil said.
In Khalifa City A, there is a market and a Geant supermarket, which includes a few restaurants, said Rashid Al Junaibi.
But the Emirati said the shops overcharged and there was a lack of variety in available products.
"With the population and the area of Khalifa City A, shops should be opened in each pocket, particularly the cooperative societies where prices are lower," Mr Al Junaibi said.
Emirati Essa Al Hosni said most of the Khalifa City A residents were retired and unable to rush to the city.
"There is Spinneys here but it's very expensive," the retiree said. "We receive our monthly pensions at month's end and do shopping for the entire month.
"If we want to purchase edible and non-edible commodities for a month, it's difficult to find here."
Mr Al Hosni said he would like to see a library.
Ibrahim Al Khumairi said: "There are no parks, recreational and sports facilities in Khalifa City A. All the time we drive to Airport Park along with our kids.
"We don't want small shops and groceries but we need malls, which could fix all our requirements."
In Shahama, residents were just as pleased with the plans.
Yousuf Al Aamri said he was happy to hear the news, and he hoped the municipality would also build a football pitch.