Officials say redevelopment of waterfront will involve bold designs so the emirate can stand out as a tourist destination and place to invest.
Landmarks on the Ajman waterfront
AJMAN // The emirate's determination to become a tourist destination and an investment hub is at the heart of its plans for redeveloping its 28-kilometre waterfront. Officials say that the designs are intended to make buildings and complexes global landmarks.
The development programme, which will cost hundreds of billions of dirhams, will come under the Urban Planning Strategy 2030 and aims to offer an attractive waterfront that places the city on the tourist map and makes it a more desirable destination to work and live in, said Mohammed al Muhairi, the director general of the Ajman Municipality's planning department.
"Ajman as an emirate has a deep relationship with the sea," Mr al Muhairi said. "The sea was a source of livelihood for past generations and today we want it to be a target for investors."
The nation already has several successful seafront projects, including Dubai's Palm Jumeriah and Sharjah's Buhaira corniche. Ajman officials are hoping their massive waterfront development will add to the list. Recently the Government allocated Dh20 million for fiscal 2010-2011 to preserve and clean up the waterfront.
Approved projects so far include the Dh220 billion Al Zorah development including five public marinas, a championship golf course, offices, shops and five-star holiday resorts, as well as villas and apartments.
The US$3bn (Dh11bn) Ajman Marina project will have residential accommodation for 21,000 people, as well as a number of commercial and entertainment areas, and cover 240,000 square metres.
In addition, hotels, restaurants and cafes will be built on the corniche and the Industrial Free Zone project will be attached to the Ajman port.
The redevelopment of the waterfront was a theme of this year's urban planning conference at Ajman University. Sheikh Rashid Al Nuaimi, the chairman of the planning department, said the goal was to lay a viable economic foundation for the emirate.
"The objective is to have Ajman as a distinctive tourist destination and an investment hub," he said. "If you have the two, then you are assured of sustainable social and economic development." Ajman was committed to using all resources at its disposal to support development, while maintaining its cultural heritage and Emirati identity, he said.
Dr Ghada Mahmoud Hafez, a municipality consultant, said the sea should be for the benefit of everyone, which explained the proposed development's extensive scope.
"Currently only six per cent of the emirate's waterfront is under use," she said. "At the moment, Al Safia island is not optimally utilised. It will be turned into a prime tourist attraction because of its natural splendour."
The Industrial Free Zone, which occupies 12 per cent of the waterfront, will be turned into a multi-purpose area to allow commercial and tourism-related activities.
The plan also suggests the need for bridges above the creek to connect the Mushairef and Al Jurf areas with the rest of the city. Traffic congestion along the corniche would be reduced by expanding the parallel roads in the area.
"The development plans for this emirate are really overwhelming," said Salah al Harouni, who has lived on the corniche for the past six years. "When I came here I could count the buildings, the main road was narrow and all feeder roads were in sand. All that has changed."