ABU DHABI // A section of the new-look Al Bateen Beach will open to the public tomorrow.
About 200 metres of the 700-metre waterfront will open in time for tomorrow's National Day celebrations. The beach has been under redevelopment for nearly two years.
The stretch of newly landscaped beach will be free to use, and will feature amenities including a sports facility and temporary food stalls.
"It's our goal to have some of the nicest beaches in the world," said Muhra Al Muhairi, the beaches section head at the municipality. "This will bring Abu Dhabi to the next level."
The beach will be staffed by lifeguards and security personnel and daytime swimming will be allowed. The sports facility is designed for volleyball and football.
The full beach is expected to be completed by early 2012.
"The Phase 1 opening will give visitors a taste of what the beach will be like in the future," Ms Al Muhairi said.
Al Bateen Beach project is a scaled-back version of an area revitalisation programme being carried out by the municipality in partnership with the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).
The beach will be operated by the municipality, but TDIC is responsible for redeveloping Al Bateen Wharf into "a signature waterfront destination" at a cost of Dh1.6billion.
The Fishermen's Marina, which includes more than 320 berths and a fishermen's community centre, was completed last year. Construction on the Yacht Club and Marina started early this year and was expected to be completed by early 2013, according to TDIC.
But a municipality official said plans for the marina were still under discussion.
TDIC officials were not immediately available for comment.
The Urban Planning Council's plans for Al Bateen, released in June 2009, outlined the main principles for designing the waterfront.
The design included plans to develop pedestrian connections linking surrounding neighbourhoods to the waterfront. A promenade about 10 metres wide to accommodate cyclists, walkers and outdoor seating is also planned.
Only about 30 per cent of that plan will be implemented.
Al Bateen Wharf Hotel and Apartments, which will include a 397-room five-star hotel as well as 220 residential apartments, is under construction and was initially expected to be completed in 2013.
The municipality hopes the redeveloped marina will help visitors connect to the region's seafaring tradition.
When completed, the beach, styled as a "beach park", will have permanent restaurants and cafes, vending machines, open picnicking areas, showers and restrooms.