ABU DHABI // Al Gharbia would work hard to implement initiatives introduced by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, highlighted during a recent presidential tour into planning for the region, senior officials vowed yesterday. During a three-day tour of the region last week, Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, along with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, inspected new developments and spoke with residents of Al Gharbia, which makes up 83 per cent of the emirate and more than 70 per cent of the country.
Mohammed bin Azzan al Mazrouei, the director general of the Western Region Development Council (WRDC), said Sheikh Khalifa's support had been "instrumental in helping us to shape the future of Al Gharbia to ensure it becomes a better place to live, work and visit". Mr Mazrouei said the WRDC was working closely with the relevant government bodies to ensure initiatives directed by the President and set in government policy were included in future plans.
With support from the Khalifa Fund, the WRDC had initiated a training programme to encourage residents to start small and medium-sized businesses, the council said. More than 255 residents attended entrepreneurship awareness sessions in April and May. A number of projectswere also planned to create employment for the region's youth to help stem the flow of residents from the emirate. A slew of new developments and upgrades were planned for Al Gharbia and hundreds of millions of dirhams had been earmarked to upgrade services, infrastructure, education, tourism, health facilities and residences.
Following Sheikh Khalifa's visit, it was announced a new planning taskforce had been formed to help to guide development in the region. Managed by the WRDC, the new body would meet regularly to ensure a consistent approach to improving the infrastructure of the underdeveloped region. A multibillion-dirham overhaul of the 327km motorway linking Al Gharbia to the rest of the country is scheduled for completion by 2011. Planners say the region's hydrocarbon and tourism industries will benefit when the road expansion and safety upgrades are completed. The region is also likely to get an improved air service.
Expanding the airport at Jebel Dhanna was one of the recommendations made to the planning taskforce at its first session last week. firstname.lastname@example.org