AL GHARBIA // High-growth areas in Al Gharbia are due for six new civic centres, dozens of parks and thousands of renovated villas over the next four years, the Western Region Municipality said yesterday. The investment is part of the 2010-2014 strategic plan for the sprawling region, which covers more than 80 per cent of the land area of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Officials are hoping Al Gharbia will become the country's next economic and tourism frontier. "The key thing is we need to maintain the sustainable growth and to provide a good quality of life to residents," said Hamood al Mansoori, the municipality's general manager. As part of that goal the municipality is building "one-stop-shop" customer-service centres throughout the region, he said. "We're also renovating a lot of homes, we're working on enhancing the traffic safety inside the cities, and enhancing infrastructure in regards to water drainage and sewage."
Al Gharbia encompasses the cities of Madinat Zayed, Mirfa, Liwa, Ghayathi and Sila, as well as Dalma Island. Though Al Gharbia contains only eight per cent of the population of Abu Dhabi, it generates 40 per cent of the emirate's GDP, mainly from petroleum. The Government has allocated Dh98 billion (US$26.6bn) to developing the region. The most exciting project in the next few years will be the construction of 24-hour-a-day community centres for all six of the cities, each with a swimming pool, said Chafik Allaoui, the municipality's executive director of strategy and performance. "As far as quality of life and sustainable growth is concerned, that's the jewels on the crown," he said.
Mr al Mansoori had already announced plans to make Al Gharbia the greenest region in the emirate, with at least three parks for each of the six cities and smaller "pocket gardens" landscaped into neighbourhoods. Many of the planned parks, said Mr Allaoui, would be built by 2012. He said that Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Ruler's Representative in the region, "has notified me of his priorities, that he wants to see more green space in Al Gharbia."
The municipality is continuing to refurbish around 3,200 villas, at a cost of Dh4bn, for some 7,000 Emirati families. A sand-control programme will also be introduced in response to concerns from motorists about road conditions, and from residents and farmers about their gardens and crops. firstname.lastname@example.org