Abu Dhabi: With the inauguration of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre's (Adnec) Abu Dhabi Hall on March 29, the capital now has one more permanent indoor venue that is available for year-round events, especially during the UAE's hot summer months.
"Our first high-profile event was the Tom Jones concert [on April 16]. We had planned on bringing Harry Connick Jr [on May 16] to be the first performer but Flash [Productions] approached us… to stage the concert here and we agreed," Christina Anthony, Special Projects Director, Adnec, said.
"Everything went fantastically smoothly, especially since Adnec hasn't used the building this way before but Flash is experienced in organising concerts and we have experience in organising halls… we had thought of all of the problems that may occur and how to counter them but thankfully, not a single one happened," she added.
According to Anthony, Adnec's branching into entertainment was planned during Phase II of its expansion, with the aim of building a comprehensive and varied entertainment programme in the capital.
The exhibition centre plans on hosting 50 events in 2011 that range from children's shows to cultural programmes to sporting events and of course, concerts.
"We are currently in discussions with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach) and the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (Adta) to arrange for events that reflect Arabic culture and entertainment…we don't want to simply focus on Western concerts and events," Christina said.
"The size of the hall will allow us to provide an experience that is between an arena and a concert hall as its total capacity is 6,000 seated and 8,000 standing," she added.
In addition, Adnec will soon launch an online portal that can be accessed by 35,800 tour operators in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
"We will be launching our own box office website. It will be a completely online portal where people can choose their seats, print out the ticket at home and bring that to the concert. At the bottom of each e-ticket will be a barcode that will be scanned at the entrance of the hall," Anthony said.
"For international ticket holders, our website, which is undergoing testing at the moment, will give travel agents an opportunity to access various packages irrespective of leisure or business. This is a channel unique to Adnec and will help promote Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination," she added.
Another measure that the exhibition centre is planning on accomplishing is researching the number of attendees expected per event that will be staged at Abu Dhabi Hall. That information will help provide a demographic profile that will help Adnec organise all future performances.
"We are in the process of creating a hypothetical diary, which is broken down in different types of events and level of visitorship, that is, the portion of visitors travelling to Abu Dhabi versus residents. Also, of the number of people travelling to Abu Dhabi, that is broken down even further into categories such as those simply here on vacation or on a business trip versus those attending a specific event," Christina explained.
"That will initially be done in-house and then the information will be sent to be validated by an outside company. We expect the results in about three months and will plan everything accordingly from there," she added.
242-room hotel plan
Premier Inn forges ahead with expansion by breaking ground at Adnec's Capital Centre. It is building a 242-room hotel at a cost of Dh120 million to support Adnec's busy programme of events.
Premier Inn, the UK's hotel brand, has begun building its first hotel in Abu Dhabi and fourth in the UAE, at a prime location within Adnec's Capital Centre, marking further progress in the roll out of Premier Inn's aggressive regional expansion.
The new hotel to be ready by September 2011 will have 242 rooms, with the cost of development reaching Dh120 million. Capital Centre, master-planned by Adnec is a micro-city of 23 mixed-use towers, including seven hotels. The development is adjacent to the gravity-defying Capital Gate tower, and the Gulf's largest exhibition centre, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, which staged over one hundred events last year.
Premier Inn already has three other hotels in the UAE, at Dubai Investments Park, Dubai Silicon Oasis and Dubai International Airport.