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New street names represent UAE culture and values

posted on 01/05/2016: 1992 views

Some new street names in Abu Dhabi can be tongue-twisters for expatriates, but the woman in charge of the Onwani project says the names are of great cultural significance.

Street names such as Ghmaysah, Qarn 'Uwyan, Al Nashrah and Al Meel – all in areas off Muroor Road – may leave people scratching their heads, but Badriyah Al Shehhi said they were known among Emiratis and expatriates would get used to them.

The manager of the Department of Municipal Affairs' addressing division oversees Onwani, a project to name about 18,000 streets across Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain and the Western Region.

The division, which has to name 6,000 streets in the capital, has covered 1,000 of them.

"Locals love these names, as we are very much familiar with these names and it doesn't sound unusual to us," said Ms Al Shehhi, adding that people faced pronunciation difficulties anywhere in the world.

"These names belong to our local culture. We need other nationalities to get familiar with our culture, understand its meaning and its roots."

Ghmaysah is in Al Nadhra, in the Western Region, while Al Nashrah denotes flags hoisted on the rooftops of houses marking the return of the owner from Haj, or the arrival of an important guest or newborn.

Al Meel is a settlement in the Western Region that is home to an ancient castle of the same name, and Qarn 'Uwyan is a place in Masaken, in the Eastern Region.

Qarn is a sandy hill covered by protruding rocks and 'Uwyan is a bend or twist.

Emiratis said it was fitting that the emirate's street names should be given a local flavour.

"If you go to France you will find purely French names. I am not familiar with that and find it difficult to read but it represents their language, identity and culture, and we should respect that," said Saeed Janahi, an Abu Dhabi resident.

"It's just a matter of time. Gradually you start pronouncing these names as locals do.

"In fact, young generations forgot the old names and places that were related to their culture and identity, so these names will remind them and create curiosity to find its cultural significance."

The street names being adopted are generally the names of people, places and islands in remote regions of the emirate.

A team of researchers came up with the names to use in Onwani, examining each and cross-examining it with historical records to see if it should be used.

"Teams have reviewed all historical backgrounds and records of these names and worked on accurate pronunciation," Ms Al Shehhi said. "If you go to any country you find names you don't understand but that's their culture, and they are familiar with those names."

Another Emirati, Abdullah Al Shakeeli, said: "I love the Arabic names and it's easy to pronounce, as it's our own language.

"Those expatriates who don't know or understand, it's a good opportunity for them to try to learn our language and culture."

Anyone who wished to understand the historical significance and meaning of the new street names can scan the QR code on each signpost. – The National -


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