x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Residents kick back and relax on the Corniche

Many residents and visitors chose to ring in the new year quietly with their loved ones on the Corniche.

Abu Dhabi welcomes 2014 with fireworks in the skies near Emirates Palace on New Year's eve in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National
Abu Dhabi welcomes 2014 with fireworks in the skies near Emirates Palace on New Year's eve in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // Many residents and visitors were more than happy enough to ring in the New Year with their loved ones on the capital’s Corniche last night.

The area was relatively quiet with a few couples walking hand-in-hand down the beachfront promenade, while families enjoyed picnics on the sands.

Others got an early start to their new year’s resolutions as they went for a jog.

Martin and Jane Hornsby, who were visiting Abu Dhabi from England, walked the Corniche “one end to the other”, said Mrs Hornsby, to people-watch and reflect over the year that was just hours from ending.

They marvelled at the safe, communal, family-friendly atmosphere found right in the city centre, even on a day like New Year’s Eve.

“It’s lovely, a lot better than home,” said Mrs Hornsby, 47.

“It’s wonderful. The amount of people interacting, the children playing, it seems so much safer,” said Mr Hornsby, 58. “In the UK, people go out and get drunk and the kids play Xbox.”

Mr Hornsby said his main hope for next year was for an improved economy.

“I hope the economy will continue to improve and get out of the recession of 2007, 2008. It will help everyone,” he said. “It has affected the whole world.”

Mohammed Omar, a 33-year-old Emirati who was spending the last hours of 2013 along the beachfront restaurant Al Asalah near Heritage Village, focused on the positive as he recounted the successes the UAE had achieved over the past 12 months.

“In 2013, we achieved a lot of milestones, especially Expo 2020, and started investing in our infrastructure,” Mr Omar said. “We’re prioritising our projects now so we understand what we need to do over the next five years.

“We are becoming one of the best, happiest people in the region.”

Because of those accomplishments, Mr Omar said he is looking forward to 2014.

“We will focus on achieving the goals of 2020 for all of the emirates. It will be difficult for all of us, private and public, but we will do it. We have the faith and our leaders are focused.

“I’m very optimistic, especially for us and the region. We would like to have also our neighbours to focus on developing their countries.”

Bakhita Al Mansuori, 18, an Emirati who went to the Corniche from her home in Al Ain to celebrate the New Year with her mother, said 2013 was memorable because she made it into university.

She hoped 2014 might lead to another achievement for her.

“I feel happy for the New Year, I hope it will be a wonderful year. I hope to get my licence and a new car, I hope a Porsche,” she said.

For Grant Cooper and Deseray Zeelie, this will be a new year to remember.

The two South Africans spent their first new year in the UAE together sitting on a bench along the boardwalk.

“It’s romantic with all the lights, the city lights reflecting along the water,” said Mr Cooper, 31, who has lived in the capital for 15 months.

“It’s more relaxing and it’s quiet,” said Ms Zeelie, 28. “The clubs and hotels are all packed. We like space.”

At midnight, the couple planned to welcome the New Year sipping a hot drink in one of the open-air cafes in the area.

rpennington@thenational.ae