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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Relief for pedestrians as Abu Dhabi underpass reopens 

The underpass runs below Hamdan Street, connects to the World Trade Centre and features a mosaic of Abu Dhabi's skyline 

The Hamdan street underpass, that connects people to the World Trade Centre and had been closed for several years, has reopened to the public. Victor Besa / The National 
The Hamdan street underpass, that connects people to the World Trade Centre and had been closed for several years, has reopened to the public. Victor Besa / The National 

A pedestrian underpass that runs below one of Abu Dhabi’s busiest streets has reopened to the public.

The Hamdan Street underpass connects people to the World Trade Centre and had been closed for several years.

But it quietly reopened a few months ago and was undertaken by Aldar, the developer of the World Trade Centre.

Aldar confirmed to The National on Thursday that it had overseen the works.

It means that people can now cross the busy thoroughfare in seconds rather than having to walk in the heat to one of the few pedestrian crossings.

The underpass has steps, is easily accessible for wheelchairs and has water features and skylights. One of the most striking aspects is a large mosaic installed at the World Trade Centre end featuring famous buildings of the Abu Dhabi skyline such as Emirates Palace, Marina Mall and the Adnoc headquarters.

The mosaic of Abu Dhabi buildings that's been installed at the Hamdan Street underpass. John Dennehy / The National
The mosaic of Abu Dhabi buildings that's been installed at the Hamdan Street underpass. John Dennehy / The National

According to Yasser Al Marzouqi, general manager of The Mall at World Trade Centre Abu Dhabi, the underpass took 14 months to renovate and formally opened on November 7. The designer was Gedar and Tripoli the contractor.

“The Hamdan underpass was developed by Aldar,” he said. “It is not managed by The Mall at WTCAD but adds lots of value to us.”

A steady number of pedestrians were using the facility at 11am on Thursday and some of the local businesses in the area said they had seen an increase in trade since it opened.

Manoj Nayak is branch head of the UAE Exchange, which is close to the entrance of the underpass.

“It’s very nice,” he said. “Customers feel good about it and can walk across conveniently.”

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Mr Nayak said he had noticed more tourists coming to the branch since it reopened, who then go on to explore some of the gold and textile shops that line that side of Hamdan Street and are synonymous with the old town.

“They visit the World Trade Centre usually but now can easily cross from the new side to the old side,” he said. “They come from the United States, UK, France, Scandinavia and Russia, cross to us and then see the older part.”

Abdul Azeez, manning a small baqala close to the underpass, agrees.

“There are more people,” he said. “It’s better since it opened and we get tourists too.”

Hamdan Street has been going through a rejuvenation in recent years. Footpaths have been widened, streets landscaped and more shaded areas provided for pedestrians. Some of the older buildings have been renovated and others past their best knocked.

At the line of gold shops stretching down towards the Hamdan Centre, some staff said business was the same. But a staff member who preferred not to be named at one gold shop, said he was also seeing more tourists visit since it reopened. “That wasn’t happening before,” he said. “Business has increased. It’s good.”