Build it and they will come

The National - News - The Review - - Timeframe -

Ear­lier this week, Abu Dhabi-based de­vel­oper Mi­ral As­set Man­age­ment – the com­pany be­hind cap­i­tal­city at­trac­tions in­clud­ing Yas Water­world, Fer­arri World and Yas Ma­rina – un­veiled a Dh12 bil­lion de­vel­op­ment plan for the south­ern tip of Yas Is­land. The scheme in­cludes a new home for the Twofour54 media zone, a water­front prom­e­nade, an in­hab­ited pier and an 18,000-ca­pac­ity sta­dium, Yas Arena, which ac­cord­ing to Mi­ral’s sales pitch, will be­come “an epic cen­tre of en­ergy and en­ter­tain­ment”.

Sta­di­ums have been a re­cur­ring fea­ture in plans for Abu Dhabi since the 1960s, when Ger­man ar­chi­tects Jörn-Peter Sch­midtThom­sen and Conrad Roland are said to have de­vel­oped a ten­sile, net-based de­sign for the cap­i­tal that, if it had been re­alised, would have echoed the 1972 Olympic Sta­dium in Mu­nich.

In 1974, the found­ing pres­i­dent of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, or­dered Abu Dhabi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to de­velop a sta­dium as part of a bid to host the Asian Games, and by 1975, the com­mis­sion had been awarded to French ar­chi­tect Henri Col­boc. He had pre­vi­ously worked on the de­sign of the Parc des Princes along­side Roger Tail­lib­ert, the de­signer of Abu Dhabi’s Armed Forces Of­fi­cers Club & Ho­tel. Cap­tured by the Ger­man pho­tog­ra­pher Wolf­gang Volz soon af­ter its in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1979, the sport­ing po­ten­tial of Col­boc’s modernist mas­ter­piece was fi­nally re­alised in 1982 when the sta­dium hosted the Gulf Cup of Na­tions fi­nals. The UAE fin­ished third, be­hind Kuwait and Bahrain, af­ter a 3-1 vic­tory over Oman.

Nick Leech

Time Frame is a se­ries that opens a win­dow into the na­tion’s past. Read­ers are in­vited to make con­tri­bu­tions to yourpics@ then­ational.ae

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