For most of the summer on the Corniche Beach, there was a tractor making lazy circles in the sand, raking clean the volleyball courts and areas near the entrance and concessions. But it was meandering around in the wrong place. Along the tidal line, there was a strip of razor-sharp rocks and debris that shed the blood of many an unwary beachgoer.
Just in the last week, the tractor seems to have overcome its hydrophobia and combed that strip of sand and the shallows clean, transforming the beach. What used to be a gingerly tiptoe through a minefield to reach the water has become a leisurely stroll.
As the weather eases up and the water temperature drops, Abu Dhabi's beach seems to be getting nicer by the day. In the shallows, schools of small fish can be seen teeming, a good sign for both water clarity and quality.
Beachgoers seem to appreciate the difference. Starting as early as 8am, Abu Dhabi denizens begin showing up to bask in the sun, get some exercise or just while away the day. The beach still does have its peculiarities, however - there are about 30 lifeguards and security guards armed with whistles to patrol just over a kilometre of sand – but as the free beach starts to fulfil its promise, it improves the capital as a whole.