Dubai: Arabtec Holding has been awarded a Dh2.4 billion contract to construct the long-delayed Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre museum— further strengthening the Dubai-listed contractor’s presence in the capital.
Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), master developer of Saadiyat Island, awarded the contract to the Arabtec-led joint venture with Constructora San Jose SA and Oger Abu Dhabi LLC after a tendering process, TDIC said in a statement.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi museum will retain the same design and size as the original plan first announced in 2006 as part of the Saadiyat Cultural District museums, TDIC said.
The 64,000 square metre Louvre Abu Dhabi is expected to open in 2015 on Saadiyat Island with construction starting immediately, Arabtec said. The island is also home to the Zayed National Museum, which will open in 2016, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which opens in 2017.
The announcement reflects a renewed commitment by the government to complete stalled strategic projects after a period of “significant contraction” in Abu Dhabi’s construction sector, said Matthew Green, Head of Research and Consultancy at CBRE. “As sentiment continues to improve across the country, we can expect to see further development projects re-enacted, although it remains clear that Abu Dhabi’s recovery is still lagging behind Dubai by around 12 to 18 months,” he said.
The project follows a spate of similar mega-projects by Dubai — including the Mohammad Bin Rashid City and the canal project in Business Bay — that seems to indicate an “improving picture” for the sector, Green added.
The Abu Dhabi government reviewed major infrastructure projects last year and decided to prioritise spending on those with the greatest economic return to the capital — with tourism development projects being a major component, analysts said.
“Many of Abu Dhabi’s development projects had been put on hold due to market decline and Abu Dhabi government re-prioritising its key projects going forward,” said David Dudley, Regional Director, Head of Abu Dhabi Office at Jones Lang Lasalle. “A key emphasis of the 2012 capital spending plan was re-invigorating investment in to tourism development – including delivery of the Louvre Museum, as well as the National Museum and Guggenheim museums.”
Abu Dhabi’s hospitality market is currently driven by corporate demand, so large-scale initiatives to grow tourism demand and infrastructure are “highly positive for boosting hospitality demand” and will also lead to significant further growth in retail spend in the capital, he said.
Other major plans to grow Abu Dhabi as a complementary tourism and visitor destination to Dubai include major retail and family entertainment destinations at Yas Island and major initiatives by ADTCA to target and capture increased leisure tourism, Dudley said. In addition, the government committed to building the Airport Midfield terminal to double the capacity of the airport alongside the ongoing commitment to substantially grow the Etihad fleet.
“The construction of the three major new museums on Saadiyat Island fell into the category of priority projects which should be brought forward in a phased manner. The decision to award the construction contract for the Louvre Musuem shows the Government’s commitment to spending on major projects to improve the tourism and leisure offer of Abu Dhabi and help attract more cultural tourism to the Emirate,” said Craig Plumb, Head of Research, Jones Lang LaSalle MENA.
With this announcement, Dubai-listed Arabtec has further strengthened its presence in the capital after it signed a joint venture deal worth Dh10.8 billion with Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) for the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) at Abu Dhabi International Airport in June 2012.