x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Farewell, Tourist Club

The fond memories many people have of the Tourist Club will live on despite the change of name

A view of the Tourist Club area in 1976.  Courtesy Al Ittihad
A view of the Tourist Club area in 1976. Courtesy Al Ittihad

If there’s one thing you can rely on in the UAE, it’s that things will change. Since the modern nation rose out of the desert 42 year ago, change has been constant. In the capital, it has been most visible in the gleaming residential and office towers that are steadily replacing traditional low-rise residences and shops. And now, there has been a change in the way we refer to the location of some of those landmarks.

Over the past few months, under the Onwani (“my address”) project, 14 Abu Dhabi streets have been renamed. The latest news is that two city districts also have new monikers. Zayed City is now Al Danah and, more notably, the long-established Tourist Club Area has become Al Zahiyah.

While the actual Tourist Club – a beachside recreation zone with an ice rink, bowling alley and other amenities – has long gone, the name lived on to describe the district. Over the years it gained some notoriety for its entertainment precinct, but it is now a mixed residential and retail area anchored by Abu Dhabi Mall. Most of the “tourists” have gone elsewhere.

The name change sparked a flurry of nostalgia-tinged comments on social media when it was announced yesterday. While it probably won’t take long for the new name to gain currency, it’s clear that the fond memories many people have of the Tourist Club will live on.

* An earlier online version of this editorial reflected th fact that these areas will also be known in English as “Dana Area” and “Zahia Area”.