ABU DHABI // A modern prison with a capacity of up to 5,500 inmates could be opened by the end of 2012, the head of the emirate's corrections system said yesterday. "When this project is done, in the end of 2012 perhaps, it will make Abu Dhabi's correctional facilities among the best in the world," said Brig Yousef Abdul Karem al Ahmed, director general of Abu Dhabi Corrections and Prisons.
"It will have the capacity for 5,000 men and 500 women, and it will be more than a prison," he said. When the project was unveiled last year as part of a drive to upgrade the emirate's prison system, it was expected to be completed by the end of 2010. The exact location remains undetermined but will be in Al Wathba area. Abu Dhabi has two main prisons, which are operating at or above design capacity. Al Mafraq is a rehabilitative juvenile centre holding as many as 32 youths aged 13 to 19. Al Wathba prison was built in 1983 and has approximately 1,500 men and women. It is believed to be operating above capacity.
Brig al Ahmed said, however, that the new prison was not being built to accommodate more prisoners. "The goal is to create an advanced prison that would facilitate the rehabilitation of the inmates back into society," he said. The project is estimated to cost Dh1.1 billion (US$288m) and is being designed by a US firm, Carter Goble Emirates. The new prison will operate under a sharing system in which other emirates can hold some of their inmates there in the event that their prisons are full.