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The container terminal at Mina Zayed in Abu Dhabi. Mina Zayed was first inaugurated in 1972, and has been the capital’s main port for more than four decades. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s beloved Mina Zayed area is set to get a completely new look, but existing store owners in the port area need not be worried.

In a statement sent on Thursday, the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) reassured owners that their operations would be allowed to continue during the redevelopment period. Plans announced earlier by the municipal regulator alluded to an overhaul of the port’s existing facilities, along with new retail and leisure options for visitors.

Thriving port

The area, located on the eastern portion of Abu Dhabi island, currently houses a port, a fish market, a fruit and vegetable souq, plant souq, warehouses, and a number of stores selling a range of household items, from carpets to electronics and furniture.

It is being redeveloped as part of an overall plan to elevate its position as one of Abu Dhabi’s iconic landmarks. Plans include a new fish market, plant souq, fruit and vegetable market, meat market, carpet souq, date souq and a wholesale souq. The DMT reiterated that existing shops and markets will remain open to public throughout the redevelopment period, and that shops will be transferred upon completion of the redevelopment without affecting operations in the current stores.

“We are very proud to embark upon this new milestone for the redevelopment of Mina Zayed. With our master plan underway, we remain committed to contributing to the vision of our leadership to enhance Abu Dhabi’s position as one of the world’s most appealing destinations, leading to growth and economic progress of the emirate,” said Hamad Al Mutawa, executive director of operations at the DMT.

Foster further trade

Spanning over three million square metres, the project is set to foster trade and investment operations in the capital, as well as support the urban development of Abu Dhabi while safeguarding the nation’s authentic identity and heritage. The project is being undertaken in collaboration with Modon and Aldar Properties, both Abu Dhabi-based master developers.

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The fruits and vegetables markets at Mina Zayed. Historically, the area has served as the main seafood market in Abu Dhabi for over three decades. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

“The main objective of this redevelopment is to consolidate all the significant markets and souqs into one destination within the retail hub of Abu Dhabi. The strategic enhancements will focus on remaining true to the culture of the historic area in hopes to build community pride, and maintain Mina Zayed’s decades-long legacy of importance in the capital,” said Ahmed Al Zaabi, Mondon’s director of delivery

No halt to business

“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure retail and business owners in all the markets that fall within the redevelopment areas of the project that their shops will not be closed. Businesses will remain operational throughout the redevelopment process. Once completed, they will be transferred to the new locations,” Al Zaabi said. Store owners in the area had recently expressed fears that the redevelopment plans would hamper their operations and revenues greatly.

Planned demolition

The project will begin full-scale with the demolition, on Friday, November 27 of Mina Plana, an abandoned tower block in the area. The Abu Dhabi Police, which will supervise the demolition operations along with the DMT, told Gulf News this week that it has held a meeting to discuss final preparations and safety measures. Chaired by Colonel Hamad Al Neyadi, director of the Capital Police Directorate and Commander of the demolition, the meeting discussed all steps to be taken before, during and after the demolition of the massive tower block.

“Close coordination and collaboration is vital for [this project], and we are evaluating all the steps while prioritising safety,” Colonel Al Neyadi said. A media committee has also been set up to create awareness about the demolition so that members of the public can adhere to the required safety measures.

Redevelopment plans

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Carpet shops in Mina Zayed. Its architectural elements are expected to preserved, even as the interiors are repurposed. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Modon and Aldar Properties will together redevelop the area. In particular, Aldar will develop prime land into a seafront destination, with approximately 1.5 million square metres of gross floor area.

Historic port

Mina Zayed was first inaugurated in 1972, and has been the capital’s main port for more than four decades. It was named after the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and has helped fortify Abu Dhabi’s international trade.

Historically, the area has served as the main seafood market in Abu Dhabi for over three decades, which is why the existing fish market is included within the master plan development. Its architectural elements are expected to preserved, even as the interiors are repurposed to accommodate new shops and other facilities. The new fish market, situated nearby to the current market, will become a catalyst for the regeneration of the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Retain historic architecture

The structure of the existing plant souq will also be retained in terms of space, and the stores will be relocated and upgraded to the new souq once ready. The shops will consist of three main components: indoor shop, open and shaded spaces in the front, and small covered areas for circulation.

In addition to these, a newly established seasonal market, in the form of pop-ups, will be located within the Fisherman’s Wharf, allowing retailers and traders alike to showcase their merchandise on a seasonal or short-term basis. Complementing the architectural heritage of the UAE, the seasonal market will provide a permanent location where kiosks can be leased out to seasonal merchants throughout the year. It will also give shoppers and visitors a chance to explore diverse shopping options and an array of F&B outlets, while also enjoying leisurely walks along the new promenade.