The charcoal embers are long dulled, the shisha men departed and overgrown bushes obscure the views of the Corniche. This photograph shows what remains of one of the Special Cafés in Abu Dhabi.
This spot, beside Spinneys supermarket in Khalidiya, was once a favourite hangout for a languid late-night shisha. The first opened at some point in the 1990s, and three of them once dotted the Corniche. For a time they were open 24 hours a day. But they closed suddenly last year and in their place, a new “Special Marine” opened in Bateen Marina.
The three Specials have sat dormant since. It’s still unclear what’s going to happen at the old sites, but hoardings have been erected in recent weeks and construction workers have been spotted there – another enduring sign of the relentless pace of change in the city.
Drinking coffee by numbers on Abu Dhabi's Corniche
It's 3am and Abu Dhabi is awake