DUBAI // “Bring on your wrecking ball,” the American rocker Bruce Springsteen sings. And yesterday, at Dubai’s old Hard Rock Cafe, they did just that.
Demolition work began to level the popular expatriate hotspot that once marked the extent of Dubai’s urban development, and where the opening act was the US legend Chuck Berry.
A crane was erected early in the morning and by lunchtime about a quarter of the back portion of the building on Sheikh Zayed Road was broken masonry.
A spokesman for Al Rasheed Building Demolition, the company carrying out the work, said it would take about a month to tear down the building.
“Before demolition we carried out an extensive survey and found no asbestos or harmful materials,” the spokesman said.
He said the 3.5-tonne wrecking ball was being used only at the rear of the building, where an area of 100 metres had been cleared to contain any falling rubble.
The venue resembled a mini Empire State building with two crossed guitars at the entrance when it opened on December 13, 1997.
Many expatriates had found it odd that the new bar was built so far from the main city, which was centred on Bur Dubai and Deira.
“We used to be dumbfounded when we drove past it on the way to Abu Dhabi that they were building a Hard Rock Cafe so far out of town,” said Martin Talty, who has lived in Dubai since 1996. “Now, you realise why they did it.”
The bar closed in 2009 and a new Hard Rock Cafe was opened in 2011 in Festival Centre.
Plans to build a high-rise tower block on the site of the original venue prompted a backlash from many former fans.
A Facebook campaign called Save the Hard Rock Cafe attracted about 6,000 supporters.
Mr Talty said he was not sure he could attach the same sentimental value.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” he said. “Hard Rock Cafes were big back then, as were Planet Hollywoods.
“Now other things have come and taken their place. I suppose it’s just a sign of the times.”