ABU DHABI // The owner of the Garden Coffee Shop in the Tanker Mai neighbourhood was surprised earlier this week when municipal crews showed up outside his shisha cafe and starting removing trees.
"I planted 90 per cent of those trees surrounding the shop myself about three years ago, and they didn't even tell me they were going to take them down," said the Emirati owner, who asked not to be named.
"I'm not happy about this. I'm shocked, and I'm very upset," he said. "If they can justify the removal of the trees, I will be content, but there is no justification for it."
Over the past two weeks, dozens of trees have disappeared from this predominantly residential area, next to Muroor Road. The patch of pavement in front of Mir B Hussain's general transport business has been torn up, and three large holes in the brick are the only reminders of the 20-year-old trees that, until this week, had stood guard outside the shop.
"The trees were good for me. They gave shade, and it was good for us," said the 53-year-old Indian who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 30 years. "But I don't know why they cut them down."
A municipality official who was overseeing the removal of some of the trees this week said the city had only ordered the removal of diseased, dead or old trees.
"We're trying to make it nicer than before," the official said. "Not all of the trees will be coming down, and some areas will have nice, new trees planted."
An official municipality spokeswoman said she did not know why the trees were being removed.
Garden Coffee Shop's owner did not agree with the municipality's beautification plans.
"In Abu Dhabi, we were hoping to plant more trees and shrubs, but they are taking them away because I guess they want the city to be cleaner," he said. "We have trees sprouting in the middle of the desert and that's an accomplishment. Why are they taking them down?"