x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

With car dealers gone, Abu Dhabi road roars back to life

Residents along Airport Road in Abu Dhabi welcome new shops and restaurants on the street after dozens of car dealers left for the purpose-built Motor World.

Used cars lined the side streets along Airport Road in Abu Dhabi before dozens of them moved to Motor World - a purpose-bilt district for car dealers. Sammy Dallal / The National
Used cars lined the side streets along Airport Road in Abu Dhabi before dozens of them moved to Motor World - a purpose-bilt district for car dealers. Sammy Dallal / The National

Abu Dhabi's second-hand car dealers fired up their engines and rolled out of town, leaving a deathly silence in one of the capital's neighbourhoods.

Dozens of companies had to swap their spots on Airport Road in the midtown Al Ittihad district for the purpose-built Motor World near the airport last summer.

Many units on the stretch of road between 15th Street and 19 Street remain vacant. But signs of new life are appearing, with businesses opening or preparing to trade dotted among the vacant premises.

And residents claim their area is improving.

Eyad Khalil is opening a new Arabic restaurant, Karam Al Sham.

"Before it was a car showroom here," said the Syrian. "People need a restaurant - they're excited that there's a restaurant.

"They have been coming in here, the people who live here. Every day they come in and ask, 'when will it open?' They are very happy."

Tony Saad, a Lebanese IT manager, is one of many residents pleased to see the back of the cars.

"It used to be very crowded because of all the showrooms with people parking everywhere," he said. "I like it more now. There is much less traffic and life is coming back to the area in a better way.

"If you go down and have a walk you see there's a diversity in the shops. There's a new restaurant opening and I'm really interested and excited about it."

"There's another Chinese restaurant going to open. There's some toy shops opening and a new women's clothing shop.

"I was sure things would open. What would open? I didn't know. But the way things are shaping up, I'm liking it.

"In the last couple of months there have been signs of new stores opening. Life is coming back to the region."

Mr Saad, 32, lives in an apartment with his wife Andy, 34, and their 11-month-old twins. Mrs Saad said the area was better for children without all the cars, and she would now be willing to let the twins play outside when they were older.

"I would not let them go down and play with all those cars around and people coming to look at the cars," she said. "We see other families also bringing their children down and we can see them playing out in front of the building. They would not have done that before."

Nadia Umwar, a Pakistani mother of four, has lived in the area for 12 years and is pleased with the transformation.

"We have new shops - a tailor, a tyre-repair shop, a honey and herbal shop. These are all new," she said. "The area is improving. It's better without the cars. With these shops we can go and buy something. How can we buy a car every day? We won't. These shops are more useful."

Karen Walsh, 23, from Ireland, said the road had "definitely improved". The teacher said the area was "really quiet" for a while after the car dealers left but was now changing.

"There's a new clothes shop and there's a new pharmacy so that's handy," she said. "It's easier."

Shireen Banat, a science teacher from Jordan, said parking was easier now the roads were not clogged with cars for sale. "Now it's very good," she said. "We have parking anywhere, any time."