Projects that are crucial to achieving future forecasts include the next phase of Yas Island with the imminent opening of its 18-hole Yas Links course, designed by Kyle Phillips, and the planned late summer reveal of the world’s first indoor motorsport-themed amusement park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
The mixed-use island will eventually offer a well-rounded portfolio of attractions when complete, from a super mall and waterpark, to a Warner Bros. theme park, its Yas Marina, and commercial and residential complexes.
The Yas Marina Circuit is also being pitched as a year-round attraction with a one-kilometre-long drag strip and a karting circuit touted for corporate events alongside its driving academy. The Yas Marina Circuit is also primed to be used as a major concert venue following the Formula 1 launch event which saw some of the biggest names in music, including Beyonce, perform. Its five grandstands are capable of accommodating 10,000 people each.
The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) is the entity behind many of Abu Dhabi’s ambitious projects. These include Saadiyat Island, the 27-square-kilometre island sanctuary under development off the north east coast of Abu Dhabi city, which recently opened the region’s first ocean golfing destination – the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
Culture will play a leading role on Saadiyat. The island will be home to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest Guggenheim and the only one in the Middle East. Other planned cultural institutions include the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a performing arts centre, a maritime museum and a park with arts pavilions.
While ambitious development plans are being rolled out on and offshore, Abu Dhabi is also keen to communicate its green vision with hotels such as Qasr Al Sarab and Desert Islands Resort & Spa embodying its eco tourism mandate. TDIC is also the main force behind the US$3 billion Desert Islands development, consisting of eight islands, offering a unique eco-tourism destination.
Al Muhairi is confident that Abu Dhabi will develop into a full-fledged global tourism destination. "Yas Island, especially with the Formula One and the Ferrari theme park opening [this] year, is an essential element for the future confidence in Abu Dhabi as a destination, besides building awareness of the destination,” he said.
"Collaboration is on the rise and new products and packages are consistently finding their way into the travel trade and direct to consumers. ADTA will continue to support the sector through all its programmes and activities,” he added.
Out of the capital, attention is also turning to its second city, Al Ain, which, along with the emerging western Al Gharbia region, is set to be transformed as part of the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 vision.