A plan to revitalise remote districts could improve the daily routines of their residents and perhaps make them feel more a part of the capital city.
Khalifa B in line for new life
ABU DHABI // A plan to revitalise remote districts could improve the daily routines of their residents and perhaps make them feel more a part of the capital city. Falah al Ahbabi, the general manager of the Urban Planning Council (UPC), yesterday announced Executive Council approval of a revitalisation plan for Khalifa B. Similar revitalisation schemes for Shahama and Bahia, along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road, were approved at the same time, and details will be announced at next month's Cityscape Abu Dhabi 2009 real estate exhibition. Mr al Ahbabi said the Government had allocated 270 buildings to Khalifa B, each with five to seven storeys. Residents in the area have often complained about the lack of basic amenities and services such as parks and shopping centres. Mohammed al Harbi, an Emirati who has lived in Khalifa B for 14 months, said: "Now we are suffering in order to have access to all those services." He complained that there were not enough local mosques and that regular taxi or bus service was unavailable. "We do not have any supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, banks, or parks nearby," he said. Mr al Harbi, 64, said he often has to drive 30 minutes to Bani Yas to run simple errands. The Khalifa B Master Plan, begun in August last year, is intended to integrate community facilities and mixed-use development, including commercial and office space, into existing neighbourhoods. The plan also calls for the revitalisation of Bahia and Shahama, along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway. The UPC estimates that by 2030, 110,000 people will live in the communities. Stores, community facilities, open spaces and hotels are included in the plan. Mr al Ahbabi said there was "huge potential" for developing the Shahama and Bahia areas, which were not originally planned with many amenities. "Now we want to bring the amenities up to the people's expectations," he said. Saif Abdullah, who lives in Bahia, welcomed the upgrades. "It is a great idea because we need more places to shop," said Mr Abdullah, 40. Bahia's long rows of villas sit on generous plots of land, and house hundreds of large families. For many residents, however, common gardens and places for their children to play are lacking - things the revitalisation plan addresses. "Right now there is not much for the children to do. There is one park, but many people have to drive to reach there," Mr Abdullah said. * With additional reporting by Nathalie Gillet