x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Valuing the islands

A tranquil and un-developed spot like Lulu Island, close to town, is precious. Too bad it's not officially open to the public - and kept tidy.

It takes 20 minutes to get to Bahraini Island by motor boat from Abu Dhabi Marina. For those who make the journey, and on weekends many do, kilometres of sugary sand, emerald-green water and stands of ghaf trees offer a fine counterpoint to frenetic city life.

Save for the boat ride, access to Bahraini is free of charge. Unfortunately, many visitors treat the environment as if it were of little value as well. Plastic water bottles, food wrappers and the detritus of forgotten barbecues cook under the hot sun.

The near-shore islands are popular because they offer something the average work week does not: a chance to slow down. It's not running water or electricity that lure people to them. It's the lack of either.

In this regard, the experience of another Abu Dhabi island is instructive. Lulu Island, the man-made spit of sand just north of Abu Dhabi Corniche, draws a dedicated following despite being officially off limits to the public, as The National reports today.

There needs to be more consideration about how the island could be better utilised. If people are already visiting Lulu, authorities should consider reopening public access, in part to encourage visitors to take better care of it.

Lulu is already an integral part of the capital. A better visitor plan - and one for Bahraini as well - would be further improvement.