6 things to do on Abu Dhabi’s Al Hudayriat Island

Known as the bridge that leads to nothing, the hanging bridge near Al Bateen beach, Abu Dhabi, will now finally reach to the first phase of Al Hudayriat Island.

The project, which has been years in the making since it was first announced in 2009, was partly launched and officially inaugurated by Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Sunday afternoon. Among the attractions are an undisturbed, 600-metre beach, running and cycling tracks, water sports, a bouncy castle and a children’s playground.

It is part of a new city development that will include housing for Emiratis and commercial attractions, advancing Abu Dhabi with cutting-edge ideas that will be put into action over the next 20 years. The ongoing cost of the works has not yet been announced, but an official hinted there are a lot of “mega projects” still to come.

As Sheikh Nahyan cut the ribbon, dozens of helium balloons and pigeons were released, flying towards the new beach.

“This project strengthens the status of Abu Dhabi, which is able to provide a package of attractions that serve the needs of visitors and residents,” said Falah Al Ahbabi, director of Abu Dhabi Municipality’s Urban Planning Council.

“The beach has been inaugurated during the Year of Zayed to encourage one of the [Founding Father’s] main values: sustainability,” he said. The UPC previously announced they will be looking for innovative ideas to make the island sustainable and a haven for ecotourism and marine wildlife.

A timeline for the future and completion of the island has not been announced yet. Yet the Abu Dhabi Sports Council have already laid out grand plans for athletes across the massive island – there are two loops of running and cycling tracks‎, one of 5 kilometres and another of 10km.

Set to Olympics-size standards, the island is also designed to host a world series of triathlons – “it’s a beautiful hub for that,” said an official from the council, who preferred not to be named.

‎”It has the largest space on the planet, that we know of, that is dedicated just to sports.”

While the beach appeared to be up and running with lifeguards in position and passers-by already enjoying a walk flanked by beautiful nature, it will only be open for swimming once the safety line is in place after Ramadan.

Other athletic attractions include five football fields, four basketball courts, four volleyball and four beach football courts.

Cycle over the bridge and on to the island

There aren’t that many places to safely cycle within the city, and enthusiasts often head to Yas Island in the evenings.

But the new bridge has a dedicated cycle lane and riders can head around some of the island at present.

Loops of running and cycling tracks‎ are open, and 5km and 10km tracks are planned.

Other athletic attractions include five football fields, four basketball courts, four volleyball and four beach football courts.

The island also has food truck facilities. Antonie Robertson / The National
The island also has food truck facilities. Antonie Robertson / The National

Food trucks galore

Everyone’s favourite mobile dining experience is back, with mobile kitchens providing food to families on an island excursion.

A number of food trucks were open during the opening ceremony on Sunday evening and it is expected that will fill up at the weekends.

The beach and island also have playground facilities for kids. Antonie Robertson / The National
The beach and island also have playground facilities for kids. Antonie Robertson / The National

Camping – but not quite yet

At the opening of the island on Sunday, sport council officials said there will soon be a camping area along with zip line, kayaks, kite-surfing and a mountain-bike course.

But there is no firm timeline on the site’s arrival yet.

It’s also not clear if the island will be open overnight yet, and it is likely it will wind down by late evening if there is no accommodation yet.

The new slipway at Hudayriat Island. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Municipality
The new slipway at Hudayriat Island. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Municipality

Watersports

Kayaking and kite-surfing are planned for the waters off the island, and a boat and jet ski slipway is already open underneath the main bridge.

Loading and offloading of boats and jet skis is free of charge if owners do it themselves.

The island will eventually add 30 kilometres of waterfront to Abu Dhabi.

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