ABU DHABI // Beach lovers and swimmers were yesterday celebrating Al Bateen Beach being awarded "Blue Flag" status.
The international standard measures water quality, safety and environmental performance.
Al Bateen is the second public beach to be awarded the blue flag, after Corniche Beach. Forty-one countries participate in the international programme.
Abu Dhabi Municipality yesterday officially raised the blue flag.
They said there was no current jellyfish threat and that sewage spills, which plagued the site in the past, were no longer a concern.
Many beach goers see Al Bateen as more exclusive, with uninterrupted views and fresh sea water without any land obstacles.
The municipality tests the water quality of the beach every month to ensure it is free from any contamination, said Ali Abdurrahman Al Ammari, acting manager of the community services division at the municipality.
"We check the amount of bacteria, salt and other elements which affect the life of swimmers and the sanctity of the beach," he said. "A municipality-assigned company carries out these tests."
The UAE is the first country in the Middle East to have blue flag beaches, he said.
The municipality has deployed 15 lifeguards and 19 security guards to the beach area, and there is a community police office. The beach is staffed from dawn to dusk.
As per the requirements of the blue flag programme, the municipality will also hold educational events for children.
The beach has a capacity for 15,000 people and a swimming area for 5,000. The total beach area is 800 metres, Mr Al Ammari said. Beach access is free, as is parking.
"I like to be here because it's very quite and beautiful," said Akhtar Hussain, a resident of Abu Dhabi who was sunbathing.
Mohammed Zahid, 10, was running on the beach. "It's fun and I enjoy swimming here," he said.