SPOTLIGHT ON ABU DHABI

The emirate reports growth in cultural, business, medical, and cruise tourism

Ali Hassan Al Shaiba is Acting Executive Director of the Marketing and Communications Sector at Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism. We asked him how tourism is progressing in Abu Dhabi and what the main drivers are.

Visitor figures to Abu Dhabi have once again risen year-on-year, and we welcomed an incredible 10 million visitors to the emirate in 2018. There are many factors driving this success; we have been greatly diversifying our tourism offering, and aside from the usual holiday makers, placing a greater focus on developing different sub-sectors – such as cultural, business, medical, and cruise tourism. This has been paying off – in 2018, the cruise sector provided us more than 350,000 visitors, while our world-class cultural assets, such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, attracted more than 2.6 million people to the emirate.

WE HAVE BEEN GREATLY DIVERSIFYING OUR TOURISM OFFERING, AND ASIDE FROM THE USUAL HOLIDAY MAKERS, PLACING A GREATER FOCUS ON DEVELOPING DIFFERENT SUB-SECTORS

Cultural tourism is of course a main attraction. What’s new in this respect?

December 2018 saw the addition of a jewel to Abu Dhabi’s cultural crown, with the much-anticipated launch of the Al Hosn cultural site. The original urban block of the city, Al Hosn features our oldest and most signi cant landmark, Qasr Al Hosn, now transformed into a museum narrating the history of the emirate, as well as the Cultural Foundation, dedicated to all forms of contemporary Emirati culture. Al Hosn takes its place alongside our many other cultural assets, such as landmark museum Louvre Abu Dhabi, which in November 2018 celebrated both its one-year anniversary and the tremendous milestone of one million visitors.

Gastronomy is growing as an attraction in Abu Dhabi…

We have a number of fun and tasty public events celebrating global gastronomy. Taste of Abu Dhabi is an annual long weekend of food, drink and music on Yas Island, showcasing the newest and most exciting restaurants and chefs from around the world, and offering live cooking demonstrations and masterclasses.

What’s new on the hospitality front – in terms of new resorts and hotels?

We have many new luxury hotels enhancing the hospitality landscape. Notable recent additions include The Edition, located in the redeveloped Bateen Marina area, and the Saadiyat Rotana. Saadiyat Island in particular has so much to offer guests, with a cluster of fantastic resorts, beautiful beaches, and for a dash of culture, the exhibitions and events going on at Manarat al Saadiyat and NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. For attractions, Yas Island now boasts the recently-opened Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi. Yas Island will also be host to SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2022 as the first-ever SeaWorld outside the US.

Photo: Ali Hassan Al Shaiba Acting Executive Director of the Marketing and Communications Sector, Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism