Sheikh Zayed Bridge is a spectacular suspended deck arch bridge in the United Arab Emirates connecting Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat islands across the Maqta Channel. It forms part of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan highway and was named after the country’s former president and principal architect.
Considered to be one of the most intricate bridges ever built it features striking curved design arches which evoke the undulating sand dunes of the desert region. The bridge is 842 m (2,762 ft) long and is composed of three main arches supported by four piers and two additional sets of supports on the Abu Dhabi island side. The main span is 140m (460 ft) wide.
The arches are constructed of steel and are linked together by blocks of concrete reinforced with steel cables. Almost 500 tons of concrete, 5,000 tons of pre-stressed steel and 2,000 tons of foundation steel were used.
Designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, construction of the bridge began in 2003 and it took seven years to complete, more than twice the original timescale.
The 68m (223 ft) wide roadway became the third traffic route from the mainland to Abu Dhabi and was designed to carry 16,000 vehicles an hour on two four-lane carriageways. It also includes emergency lanes in each direction and a pedestrian footway. The largest arch towers 63m (206 ft) above the bridge deck.
In addition to its striking architecture the bridge is notable for its spectacular lighting which was designed by Dutchman Rogier van der Heide. More than 200 automated lights are programmed to weave thirteen artistic scenarios along the length of the bridge to complement and enhance the flow of the bridge spine.
The Sheikh Zayed Bridge was officially opened on 25th November 2010 by Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the United Arab Emirates. It had cost more than €300 million to build.