Abu Dhabi’s Hamdan Street un­der­pass re­opens to the re­lief of hot pedes­tri­ans

The National - News - - NEWS EMIRATES - JOHN DENNEHY

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

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

But it qui­etly re­opened a few months ago after work 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 on the Abu Dhabi sky­line, such as Emi­rates Palace, Ma­rina Mall and the Ad­noc head­quar­ters.

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 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.”

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, who runs a baqala close to the un­der­pass, agreed.

“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 down.

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

Hamdan Street has been go­ing through a re­ju­ve­na­tion with foot­paths widened and more shaded ar­eas

Vic­tor Besa / The Na­tional

The un­der­pass to the World Trade Cen­tre took 14 months to ren­o­vate. It has wa­ter fea­tures and sky­lights

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