Onwani: New way to find places in Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi: More than 90 per cent of 70,000 buildings in the capital have new blue signboards as part of Abu Dhabi’s strategy to uniquely identify all locations, officials announced on Monday.

Dubbed Onwani Addressing and Wayfinding System, the initiative has already assigned unique names to most of the city’s 6,000 streets, as well as route numbers to 75 per cent of the 32 main thoroughfares.

The initiative is undertaken by the municipal regulator, the Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA), in collaboration with Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain Municipality and the Western Region Municipality.

“Buildings on the right side of a street feature even numbers, while those on the left are identified with odd numbers, in accordance with international best practices. Each building sign also includes a Quick Response (QR) code, which can be scanned using smartphones to reveal details about the building’s location, its geographical coordinates and the street on which it is located. These can then be shared with other residents,” Dr Abdullah Al Beloushi, executive director for land property management at the DMA, told Gulf News.

According to DMA officials, the capital’s locations will be completely integrated in a comprehensive Onwani database, as well as its streets named and buildings numbered by the end of this year. Thereafter, efforts will focus on implementing the same system in Al Ain and the Western Region.

In the past, street names in the capital were duplicated in various areas, making it difficult to identify exact locations. Residents and visitors would use landmarks to identify locations.

“Not only will Onwani help people to uniquely identify locations, but it will also aid delivery services and emergency response teams to reach destinations quickly and smoothly,” Dr Al Beloushi explained.

One of the first steps undertaken was to eliminate duplicate names for major roads of Abu Dhabi city and to establish official names for them. A specialised committee worked to agree upon 19,000 new names for roads and 240 districts. The names reflect the cultural and historical significant of the emirate and the region. Many are named after personalities who helped shape the UAE and the Arab world.

As reported by Gulf News in April, route numbers are also being incorporated to overhead signs erected on traffic signal poles to further ease wayfinding in Abu Dhabi city. In addition to the new names, main roads stretching from the northwest to the southeast are numbered sequentially with odd numbers, starting with Corniche Street as 1, Khalifa Bin Zayed Street as 3 and on to Dhafeer Street as 31. Roads from the southwest to the northeast, on the other hand, are identified with increasing even numbers, beginning from 2 for Khalifa Al Mubarak Street in Al Bateen area.

Omar Al Shaiba, director of spatial data at the DMA, said this will especially aid visitors to the city who are unfamiliar with street names, and can simply follow the sequentially numbered streets to get from place to place.

An official awareness campaign is also working to educate residents, motorists and other entities about the changes brought about by Onwani.

“The database that is created will also be shared with other relevant authorities, such as the Department of Transport, so that the new street names are seamlessly integrated into all wayfinding and navigational systems. We will also launch an Onwani smartphone application by the end of the year,” Dr Al Beloushi added.

By:Samihah Zaman (Gulf News)