30. Al-Maqta'a Bridge 1968
Abu Dhabi-Al-Ain Road
Bus Route 054
The best time for discovering Al-Maqta'a Bridge by foot is in the morning as the sun rises and a fresh breeze is in the air. Walk down from the main road, stroll along the shore, and enjoy the beauty of the place. A bird might break the silence, as there are no cars on the road. See how Al-Maqta'a stands, elegant and proud, its curve reflected in the still water in what looks like an ellipse. From the side, the bridge’s intersecting iron billets look like laces on the back of a woman’s corset.
At night, Al-Maqta'a becomes more mystical and vibrant. Cars racing in the darkness light up the structure, which is reflected in the waters. Everybody rushes along, but to you, the bridge is a landmark. It has a soul and a story.
The word "Maqta'a" designates the narrows that separate the island of Abu Dhabi from the mainland. Before 1968, the strait was crossed by camels rather than by automobiles, and travelers had to wait for low tide before getting to the other side. The strait varied in depth, which caused several problems. Large boulders were put into the water to mark the route, but most vehicles still had trouble. Hussein Abdul Rahman Khansaheb, a civil engineer, built the first crossing, a cement causeway, in 1952.
Visible from the bridge, the watchtower on a tiny island in the middle of the strait is one of the very few places that remains from Abu Dhabi’s past. As the population increased and the amount of cars grew, the causeway was no longer enough. The current bridge was built in 1968, and a second bridge was added in 2000.