x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Khalifa views capital's future

President says the Saadiyat and Yas Island projects show firm commitment to development.

ABU DHABI // Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE, said yesterday that the capital's biggest developments demonstrated how swiftly it was positioning itself for its future in trade and tourism. After viewing the Saadiyat and Yas Island projects, he said they not only encouraged foreign investment and co-operation, but proved the country was building itself a bigger place on the world stage.

The state news agency, WAM, said the delegation began the tour from the Abu Dhabi Corniche, now linked to Saadiyat Island by the 10-lane Abu Dhabi-Saadiyat Bridge. The President was accompanied by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, as well as other dignitaries including the National Security Adviser, Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed; and the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon.

The President, named this week by the Arabic-language version of Newsweek as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world, was given a detailed update on the projects' progress. The President expressed his happiness over the state of the developments and that of other important projects across the country. Yas Island, on which construction is under way ahead of the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November, is part of a wider aim of boosting the UAE's position as an international centre of sport and tourism, said Sheikh Khalifa. He said the developments would also strengthen the links between cities across the country, according to WAM.

The work showed the country's willingness to diversify its economic activity, the President said. The visit took the President to what the city envisions as being its future cultural capital, Saadiyat Island. The full cultural district will be spread over 270 hectares, about 10 per cent of the island, and will be completed by 2018. The Louvre, Guggenheim and the Zayed National Museum will comprise the first phase, with most of the building work on them expected to be completed by 2013.

Saadiyat Bridge will give a bird's-eye view of some of the district's most impressive buildings, including the Guggenheim, designed by the architect Frank Gehry, and the Performing Arts Centre, designed by Zaha Hadid. The openings of the three museums will be staggered over two years, its developer, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), said this year. The delegation also visited the site of this year's Grand Prix, Yas Island, and Al Raha Beach, a small city in its own right stretching over 5.2 million square metres of the mainland.

One of the most high-profile developments in the country, Yas Island will, along with the Yas Marina Circuit, boast Ferrari World, a large, red-roofed dome housing the first Ferrari theme park and the world's fastest roller-coaster, due to open in 2010. A Warner Bros theme park is also planned, as well as several new marinas, and is expected to be open by 2013.
mswan@thenational.ae