Dubai - Dubai inaugurated a new canal on Wednesday after a three-year construction project costing $735-million, in a fresh boost for tourism and commerce in the booming Gulf city state.
The Dubai Water Canal creates a 6.4km waterfront in the area running from the city's growing Business Bay commercial district to the Gulf.
The waterway, between 80 and 120 metres in width, will “add a unique tourist and commercial showpiece” to the city, said the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) chief, Mattar al-Tayer.
RTA said three bridges were built and that the project would provide “a new residential district, tourist attractions and recreational facilities including several hotels, restaurants and entertainment”.
It will add a new shopping centre, four hotels and 450 restaurants to the city, according to local media.
Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attended the canal's grand official opening ceremony, as the city state which attracted 14 million tourists in 2015 aims for 25 million visitors a year by 2020 when it hosts the global trade fair Expo 2020.
In 2013, Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the Gulf country's vice-president and prime minister, promised that the water canal will be Dubai and the UAE's “biggest landmark.”
Following a spectacular show of acrobats and dancers, he boarded a boat with his guests and sailed in the canal towards the commercial centre amid applause from inhabitants who gathered at its banks as fireworks lit up the sky.