Abu Dhabi: The hospitality sector on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island continues to remain strong, with the island set to add 800 new hotel rooms by 2021 — including 550 this year with the opening of Hilton — according to Miral’s chief executive officer, Mohammad Al Zaabi.
Miral — which is behind most of Yas Island’s leisure projects, including Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi — aims to establish the island as one of the UAE’s top travel destinations, with the company also set to add attractions such as the world’s first Warner Bros Hotel and SeaWorld to its portfolio by 2021 and 2022 respectively.
“We’re very much focused on the entertainment and tourism sector … [and] the current demand. We did a study in 2015 and decided to add 800 more rooms; so 550 in Hilton and 250 rooms in Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi,” said Al Zaabi, during a media round-table on Monday.
“When we announced the plan in 2015 we said we needed 1,500 rooms so there is still more to come, and that is to cater to the current and future demand of our theme parks and entertainment sector,” he added.
Over half developed
“Yas Island is less than 55 per cent developed, so there is still more to come to Yas Island; now which type of development that’s the question, but, yes we are continuing to develop,” he said.
“The progress of [Warner Bros Hotel] is almost 40 per cent developed and we look forward to opening the Warner Bros hotel in 2021. Our next flagship [project] will be SeaWorld, we’re in a very advanced stage of design and we’re on track to finish the construction by 2022,” he added.
Al Zaabi said Yas Bay also remained on track, with the Dh12 billion project set to provide more attractions for both residents and tourists.
The progress of [Warner Bros Hotel] is almost 40 per cent developed and we look forward to opening the Warner Bros hotel in 2021. Our next flagship [project] will be SeaWorld, we’re in a very advanced stage of design and we’re on track to finish the construction by 2022
“Miral invested around Dh4 billion, mainly in Yas Bay’s waterfront experience, which includes a number of retail [stores]. For the first time Abu Dhabi will [also] have a pier, which will have a number of restaurants.
“[Yas Bay’s] indoor arena — Etihad Arena — which has a capacity of 18,000 will also open this year with development almost 88 per cent completed,” he added.
Al Zaabi said he expected higher visitor numbers to Abu Dhabi this year with the announcement of the new five-year visa programme as well as the introduction of low cost carrier airlines in the emirate. “I’m very excited to see the changes announced recently, for example the five-year visa regulation, which will be great for our customers and tourists to come and enjoy different experiences whenever they wish.
“Having two more low fair airlines coming to Abu Dhabi Airport will be a game changer as well for the tourism market in Abu Dhabi,” he added.
“I think Air Arabia with their experience to access second and third tier cities [in places] like India, Saudi Arabia and Russia; and having Wizz Air Abu Dhabi with access to second tier cities in Europe will improve our position as an attractive destination; Yas Island specifically and generally Abu Dhabi,” he said.