Abu Dhabi: An island home to stray cats seeks aid

Stray cats eat food at the Lulu island in Abu Dhabi. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2016

Abu Dhabi: An island home to stray cats seeks aid

ABU DHABI, UAE: The inhabitants of the desolate, man-made island off the coast of Abu Dhabi can’t be immediately seen among the breakwater rocks.

But as you draw close, their meows give them away.
A colony of stray cats has swelled on Lulu Island among its barren sandy hills and abandoned buildings that have fallen into disrepair, with the gleaming modern skyline of the UAE as a background.
The island has lain fallow and largely undeveloped since an ambitious plan by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer to turn it into a “leisure park” fell apart in the 1980s.
A volunteer group is trying to spay and neuter the island’s cats while caring for them in an abandoned modernist’s dream that seems to suit the Arabian Maus living there.
“The flora and the fauna all live in harmony with each other,” said Susan Aylott, who leads the aid group Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi . “Everything lives in harmony with the cats here.”
Lulu, which means “pearl” in Arabic, is a narrow island around three miles long running along the coast in front of Abu Dhabi’s downtown, protecting its shores from the sometimes choppy waters of the Arabian Gulf. Niemeyer’s planned attractions, including an aquarium; conference center and marina were never built. A few other beach structures were built but lie unused and more recent plans to develop it never got off the ground.
In 2009, Abu Dhabi stopped ferries to the island amid an economic slowdown, and in theory it’s closed to the public, though sometimes people drop by on their own boats just to see it.
But sometime over the decades, cats made it across the narrow channel — about a half-mile wide — separating it from Abu Dhabi Theatre and the rest of the capital. Four years ago, they numbered 27, Aylott said. Now there’s over 165, mostly Arabian Maus, she said.
“You can’t just remove them,” she said on a recent visit to the 469-hectare (1.8-mile) island. “This is their home.”
So Aylott and others are working to neuter and spay the cats. On a recent day, a bunch of cats dashed out for the food set out by Aylott and her volunteers — and some had docked ears, a sign they had undergone the procedure. But a short distance away, a kitten hid behind a water tank, meaning others remain fertile.
“We all want to help to make the vision of Abu Dhabi a better place — for the cats anyway,” Aylott said.
Yet there is always more work to do. Aylott’s brow at one point furrowed with a call to her mobile phone. Her group had plans to resettle a giant African tortoise at a local Abu Dhabi hotel because its owner, who kept it at home, is leaving the country.


TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

Updated 22 September 2020

TWITTER POLL: More than three-quarters say no to failing Turkish lira

  • Lira has lost half its value since 2017
  • Poll finds more than 80% would not invest in falling currency

DUBAI: The Turkish lira has plummeted 22 percent this year, but an Arab News Twitter poll found that most people still don’t have the confidence to invest in the tumbling currency.

About 18 percent of the 1,438 respondents said that a weak lira was worth investing in, while nearly 82 percent said the risk was too great.

Traders will buy currency when it is weak, but tend to only do so if there is confidence that it will eventually climb back up in value – thus making a profit.

The lira – already impacted by the coronavirus and President Recep Erdogan’s authoritarian style of leadership – has suffered increased problems as he printed more money to bolster spending, but instead his plan led to a further devaluation.

Turkey and Erdogan are facing widespread condemnation for their foreign policy, which has seen the country intrude into Greek-claimed waters and interference in Libya and Syria.

There is also growing concern of civil unrest inside the country.

On Monday the currency reached record lows, touching 7.6 against the US dollar – it has lost half its value since the end of 2017.