JEDDAH: IRFAN MOHAMMED
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal will formally open the northern Corniche today evening, although thousands of residents already started flocking to the renovated Corniche two weeks ago.
The opening ceremony will be attended by Prince Mansour bin Miteb, minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, and Mayor Hani Abu Ras, as well as other prominent figures.
The Corniche was initially scheduled to open in July, but this was postponed to Dec. 18 due to some additions and modifications. The renovation and beautification of the Corniche is part of the city’s strategic development as directed by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah through a royal decree.
The Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company (JDURC) was created by royal decree in 2008 as an arm to Jeddah municipality. Its responsibilities are to develop the city and execute renovation projects.
One of the prime reasons the opening of the renovated Corniche had been delayed was the addition of public toilets and a drainage facility for storm and rainwater.
The Project Management and Development Company (PMDC), which has executed several mega projects, is the main contractor to execute the 12-km long project starting from Tahlia Street in the south, near the desalination plant, to the intersection of the North Corniche with Faisal bin Fahd Street, near the Fatimah Al-Zahra Mosque. Its estimated cost is SR 153 million.
The first phase of the renovation project covers an area of 58,000 square meters, stretching from Tahlia intersection to Al-Mukhtar Street. The second phase covers 65,000 square meters and extends from Al-Mukhtar Street to Sari Street, while the third phase area of 204,000 square meters extends from Sari Street to Al-Nawaras Square.
Salient features of the new Corniche are its internal roads, an exclusive ramp for physically handicapped persons, 899 parking slots, a separate lane for joggers, a playing facilities for small children and the public toilets.
Special attention has been paid to greenery and landscaping of the whole front water area. To reflect the true coastal and Arabian heritage, 1,700 palm trees have been planted.
Mobily has provided a Wi-Fi service in the area with a high-speed data system that was also used during the last Haj. Any subscriber of Mobily will be able to use the Wi-Fi Internet at the Corniche free of cost.
The public toilets were one of the priorities of Jeddah municipality, yet they remain closed for the public up to now.
Despite the efforts by the municipality to provide one of the best available forms of leisure, some people indulged in vandalism that hurt the spirit of service. It is a difficult task to drive on the Corniche Road in evening hours, as the area is extremely crowded. According to reports, flower saplings and newly installed properties have already been damaged by vandals.
Concerned with the behavior of some visitors, several individual groups including students and women have come forward to maintain the spirit of picnic and environment, forming a group of volunteers with the support of Jeddah municipality.
Indeed, the new Corniche is the beginning of an era of family entertainment, recreation, and leisure in Jeddah.