Abu Dhabi's Electra streets are steeped in history

Abu Dhabis Electra streets are steeped in history

Elders from the area recalled that it had been named Electra because of the many electrical shops that once dotted the street.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Fri 6 Sep 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 8 Sep 2019, 12:12 PM

Electra Street may have been officially named 'Zayed the First Street' - but for people who have seen it grow through the years, it will always be 'electrifying Electra'. However, that's not exactly how it got its name.
Elders from the area recalled that it had been named Electra because of the many electrical shops that once dotted the street.
"I have been living near Electra Park for more than 10 years now and in Abu Dhabi for 24 years. I have seen the changes happen in front of me. Earlier, there were many electrical shops in the area, and that's why it was called Electra," said V.T.V. Damodaran, an Indian expat.
It stretches from Al Maryah Island to Al Bateen, connecting both ends of the city. But the core of the Electra strip is Al Zahiyah where the luxurious Le Meridien Abu Dhabi is nestled.
This particular Le Meridien is not your usual hotel. It was inaugurated in 1979 by the UAE's Founding Father himself, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Queen Elizabeth II of the UK.
"Many other hotels have popped up but the charm of Le Meridien's edifice is unmatched. It is 40 years old and recently renovated for good," Damodaran said.
Steeped in history, this is one place that serves as a reminder of what Abu Dhabi actually was four decades ago.
Another major landmark is Al Zahiyah Shopping Centre, also one of the oldest in the city and still a favourite spot of the community.
"There are many shops in our neighbourhood, like Big Mart, Seven Colours Hypermarket and all, but I still visit Al Zahiyah Shopping Centre," Damodaran said.
"Honestly, it is the one and the only yesteryears mall for us."
New restaurants and hypermarkets have emerged, gradually taking over the space. A few of these electrical shops were left on the stretch towards LLH Hospital, near Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, but not the typical Electra.
Then, there are Electra Park, Royal Rose Hotel, and sundry shops, restaurants and residential buildings - all of them defining what Electra is today.
A community hub
Earlier this year, Electra Park opened to the community by bringing down its four walls.
There used to be an entry fee to the park, but now, everyone can enjoy the place for free.
Morning and evening hours at the park see lots of activities, with residents walking, jogging and playing around.
There are also two basketball courts inside the park, where residents - mainly Filipinos - test their shooting skills.
Ferdie Tesalona, along with his friends, is a regular at the park, with the basketball court as the main attraction for them.
"I like this place. Electra has everything one needs in a community space. There are old and major buildings here. Most days, we play basketball here at the park. This is not just about fitness, but also our passion for the sport. After every game, we have so many restaurants to try out."
Tesalona, however, is clueless about the reason behind the name Electra. But he said it could be because it's Abu Dhabi's most 'electrifying' place - a good guess, to which even the elders would agree.

More news from UAE