ABU DHABI: The UAE’s Yas and Saadiyat islands have emerged as safe havens for investment thanks to the endeavors of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism in grooming them as luxury destinations, said the CEO of a real estate development firm.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Miral Group CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al-Zaabi said both destinations continue to attract investments and tourists in line with the UAE’s vision of economic diversification.
“Abu Dhabi has been listed five times in a row as the safest city in the world. Investment here is very lucrative. Saadiyat and Yas islands are growing very fast,” Al-Zaabi said.
The top executive said: “In 2021, we added three hotels with 1,000 rooms, and now see 90 percent occupancy in summer.”
He said more rooms will be added to help boost the fast-growing tourism sector and ultimately aid the country’s economic diversification plans.
Al-Zaabi said tourism will play a key role in economic diversification. He said the country wants to increase the sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from 15 percent to 17 percent, which “is not easy to achieve.”
“Hotels will always be a key factor here in that pillar, and we at Miral are proud of what we have done so far. Only in 2021, we opened three hotels on Yas Island. We opened Hilton, DoubleTree and, of course, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Discovery, we opened the WB hotel in Abu Dhabi, which is the first Warner Bros. hotel in the world,” Al-Zaabi said.
He said the Warner Bros. achieved 90 percent occupancy last summer. I think summer now is no longer a low season here in Yas Island.
“Since 2007, we have been developing Yas Island, introducing new facilities and attractions, and today we see that all coming together under one umbrella, one vision, integrated, and interconnected to provide a very unique and unforgettable experience for our customers,” he said.
Commenting on whether Yas Island can accommodate more, he said they have long been adding attractions, facilities, hotels, and rooms, and they now, with the other partners, are adding more properties, and homes on the islands.
Al-Zaabi also pointed out that they recently announced their environmental, social, and governance strategy focusing on eight areas.
“We have already implemented two great initiatives that I am personally very proud of. We signed an agreement with Emerge, a Masdar subsidiary, to install solar panels, that provide more than 7 megawatts of power to our theme park. And now recently we also did the same at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, where we installed solar panels to supply almost 5 MW,” he said.
The CEO said they are busy with their Phenomena Abdu Dhabi project, in collaboration with the Japanese TeamLab.
“We are also building the Natural History Museum. Both projects are the result of our collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. We are also expanding Warner Bros theme park by adding a Harry Potter area, which would be a good expansion to enrich our customer experience on the island,” he said.