Abu Dhabi: The city of Abu Dhabi has undergone massive changes over the decades, but some areas in the capital still offer a nostalgic feeling of the old Abu Dhabi — the small buildings, narrow streets, and small shops and restaurants they host.

One such area is Al Danah, situated between Hamdan Street and Zayed the First Street (also commonly known as Electra Street). The area is where El Dorado Cinema is located — one of the first cinemas in the capital which offers its own sense of nostalgia — but behind the cinema is even more history with the neighbourhood largely remaining true to its roots.

Bakil Hameed, from India, has worked as a baker in the area for 36 years, encapsulating the historical feel of the neighbourhood.

“I’m proud to say that I have been working at the bakery for 36 years. When I first came to this area, there were none of the big buildings you see now along the main road, it was mainly small villas at the centre of the area which were also later taken down,” he said.

“After that, the small buildings started being constructed and these buildings are still here for the last 30 years, so this area at least at the centre is very much largely the same like it was before.”

Hameed said he was fond of the old-style Abu Dhabi, and hoped it would not change.

“There have been a lot of changes in Abu Dhabi, but personally I like the old style and make-up of the area and I certainly hope it stays the same. Maybe it’s because I’m older and so I don’t like to see changes, but I have been here for so long and have gotten so used to it which is why I want things to remain the same.

“Most of my customers now are new, a lot of the old ones are mostly gone, but I still enjoy doing my job. I have been a baker here since I was a young man and I want to continue doing that,” Hameed said.

Shareef Chirakkal, also from India, has his own long history with the neighbourhood having lived in it for 21 years. He now helps with the running of several family businesses in the area.

“I have been living here for 21 years so I am very fond of this place, I love it, it’s home for me,” he said.

“Seeing all the changes that have happened in Abu Dhabi, it definitely feels nostalgic when I walk in these streets. You find many traditional small Indian and Pakistani shops here which you might not find elsewhere in the city and so I think this makes it special. There is a long history to this area with buildings going several decades back,” he added.

Chirakkal said that he understood the need for major cities like Abu Dhabi to change, but it was also important to preserve some of the old remnants of the capital.

“I think for all big cities around the world it is always important to have history, to have traditional places and areas you can go to that are still very much the same as they were before, that gives the city its character and identity.”

Makhala Mallesh, from India, has been living in the area for 27 years, and even worked as a construction labourer to help build El Dorado Cinema.

“This place is unique because you will find the old small buildings and the old shops that have been here for so long despite the changes that have happened throughout the city,” he said.

“I still do a lot of my shopping in the small shops around the area, and also when I eat lunch or dinner, I will eat in the small restaurants. That’s just my preference — I like the old more than the new even though I admire all the progress of the city.

“Abu Dhabi is a great city and I think the blend you can find like in this area between the new and the old is what makes it fantastic,” he added.