x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Corniche Beach will not be fully open until November

Abu Dhabi's revamped Corniche Beach will host concerts under the stars, open the sea view to patio diners and bring the Gulf breeze to boardwalk strollers when it reopens later this month.

ABU DHABI // The revamped Corniche Beach will host concerts under the stars, open the sea view to patio diners and bring the Gulf breeze to boardwalk strollers when it reopens later this month. What it will not accommodate, however, is swimming, at least until November. A spokesman for the Urban Planning Council said 1,100 people were working daily to complete a portion of the beach by October 16, in time for the Yasalam entertainment events that will lead up to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 1.

Asked whether people would be able to swim and enjoy the beach by that date, the council's Jody Andrews stressed that the Corniche would be a "controlled access" area until November. "Everything that needs to be ready for the Yasalam event will be ready," he said. "On the 16th, though, this is a controlled area for a special event. "This is going to be the unveiling and getting people ready for what comes after the special event [when] people can go out and really start to enjoy everything."

With the Ras al Akhdar public beach also under development, visitors in town for the Formula One race will have to pay for access to private clubs or hotels if they want to cool off in the sea. "For the people who will come here to watch Formula One, I think they'll have enough money to do that, no problem," said Mohammed Ihsanulhaq, 29. "But when there is no place to go for swimming for free, this is a problem for residents."

Mr Ihsanulhaq, a Pakistani mechanical engineer, said he enjoyed wading at Ras al Akhdar before the site behind the Emirates Palace hotel was taken over by heavy machines. "It was a nice place, but that is no good now," he said. Work on the Corniche began in August to add a new boardwalk, facilities for sports such as volleyball, and 29 refreshment and retail kiosks around a large central plaza. New, softer sand was brought in and the beach was extended.

Also, an 1,100-space car park was built with access to an underpass to the beach, and a new shuttle bus will bring visitors to six points along the Corniche. "It seems we only have to suffer a little," Mr Ihsanulhaq said. "And after, we'll get a big reward." Mr Andrews thanked residents along the Corniche for their patience during work to enhance pedestrian access to the beach. "Once you're there, it's all about the human experience as a pedestrian, a cyclist, a sports player, a stroller," he said.

"You can jog the Corniche in the morning, have lunch here, watch or participate in a sports event, have dinner and then listen to some live music before you have to get back to your car. It's really going to feel like a resort for the community." mkwong@thenational.ae