ABU DHABI //Along a heritage trail, just minutes from the redeveloped waterfront, a new meeting spot will take shape early next year.
Called the Mother of the Nation Square, the 35,000 square metre space at the corner of Corniche and Airport roads will feature gathering areas, gardens and art installations. The plaza will be at the end of the Corniche Beach extension, near the new Central Market.
The project is being developed by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) and Family Development Foundation and is envisioned as a monument in honour of Sheikha Fatima, widow of the founding President Sheikh Zayed. "The idea is to create a place for national and public celebrations, where people can gather and enjoy special events," said Amer Al Hammadi, the UPC's director of planning and infrastructure.
"At the same time, we are talking about a person who did a lot for this country," Mr Al Hammadi added. "Sheikha Fatima helped establish our connected community and deserves a location like this."
The location was carefully chosen over an eight-month period.
The project is still in the detailed design phase, which is expected to continue until the end of the year.
The plaza will lie along a traditional route that runs from Al Manhal Palace through Qasr Al Hosn to the waterfront. Mr Al Hammadi said the plaza will be part of a heritage trail development that will bring the area "back to life" and highlight the capital's history.
"We are not looking to be a 100 per cent modern city," Mr Al Hammadi said. "We need something that is a reminder of our past and is also open space. This is our urban gift to the community."
The future home of the square is currently an open space with fountains. Cafes and shops will be added, as will an education and public outreach facility and playgrounds.
"There is a need for a national square, and this is going to be a big change for Abu Dhabi," said Mr Al Hammadi.