Work is nearly finished on one of the first projects on Saadiyat Island, the future home of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) announced yesterday. The first phase of the Saadiyat Construction Village, in which TDIC is investing Dh950 million (US$258m), is expected to be ready to house workers by spring. "The first accommodation cluster in phase one of Saadiyat Construction Village opens April 2009 and will house 5,000 construction workers in facilities that match or exceed international standards for personal space, public utilities and leisure and recreation facilities," said Lee Tabler, the chief executive of TDIC.
"By July, the three additional clusters of phase one will be opened, accommodating an additional 15,000 workers, and we have the potential to add clusters in the future to accommodate a total of 40,000 workers when required." The initial phase includes halls of residence, dining areas catering to an array of ethnic tastes, sports and leisure amenities, shops, internet booths, recreational parks and laundry facilities.
"The construction village is situated on the beach to the south of the island and has extensive landscaped areas with parks, tennis courts, basketball courts and a cricket pitch," Mr Tabler said. "One of the core rationales behind the decision for the village is to foster a sense of home and community for the workers on the island." The village was planned by Surbana Corporation, a building consultant and township developer based in Singapore. Its buildings are designed with environmental considerations, including energy-efficient cooling systems, according to TDIC.
Construction on the first phase of the island's cultural projects, including the Louvre, Guggenheim and Sheikh Zayed National museums, is scheduled to start this year. Building work will be finished by 2012, with the openings of the museums to take place by the end of 2013 or early 2014, according to TDIC officials. The 270-hectare cultural district, which occupies about 10 per cent of the island, is one of Abu Dhabi's anchor tourism attractions and is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors a year when completed in 2018, according to a 2006 report by Booz Allen Hamilton.
Saadiyat will eventually be home to about 160,000 people and offer a range of leisure and tourism facilities. "By committing to building this village, TDIC is fulfilling its pledge to deliver best practice across every element of its operations," Mr Tabler said. "In matching, and in some areas exceeding, international living standards for workers' accommodation, the company is also delivering on the promise of respect, which is at the core of the Abu Dhabi brand."