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For the last decade or so, Yas Island has been the go-to destination in Abu Dhabi. Now there’s a challenger.
With the launch of a new brand identity and positioning for Saadiyat Island, the stylish gem seems to be finally emerging from the shadow of its popular neighbour.
Positioning it as a leading beach, nature and cultural destination, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and Miral, the developer and manager of Yas Island, have created a new strategy for Saadiyat aiming to attract travellers seeking “transformative, luxury experiences”.
At the heart of the strategy, unveiled during the recent Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022 in Dubai, is a campaign under the tagline ‘One Island. Many Journeys’, with the ambitious target of attracting 19 million visitors and $1.1 billion in direct tourism revenue by 2025.
Describing how the new vision for the island seamlessly fits into Abu Dhabi’s wider strategy as the destination of choice for global travellers, Saleh Al Geziry, Director General for Tourism at DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “Saadiyat Island is undoubtedly one of Abu Dhabi’s finest treasures. It is unmatched anywhere in the world for its stunning natural beaches and world-class arts, cultural, educational, wellness, sporting and F&B experiences. This natural island is home to amazing wildlife and luxury hotels alike and there truly is something for everyone to enjoy.”
Al Geziry was emphatic in stating that Saadiyat’s diverse array of enriching experiences from culture and entertainment to amazing landmarks and natural landscapes – all within close proximity to one another – add to the appeal of Abu Dhabi as a “must-visit destination”.
He was not exaggerating as this writer found during a three-day visit to the island, the name of which literally means ‘happiness’ in Arabic!
The visit included tours of attractions on the island including Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Mamsha Promenade and the Saadiyat Beach Club and a stay at the Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.
Located just 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport and Downtown Abu Dhabi and 60 minutes from Dubai, the natural island spanning 27 sq km features idyllic beaches that are a nesting ground for the indigenous Hawksbill turtles.
What’s more, it boasts a world-leading Cultural District, fine-dining restaurants, luxury hotels and resorts, and upcoming high-end retail outlets, not to mention a diverse and amazing wildlife ecosystem as well as world-class educational institutions.
With five luxurious waterfront resorts comprising global brands Park Hyatt and St. Regis as well as regional pioneers Jumeirah, Rotana and Rixos, Saadiyat Island beckons discerning travellers.
Set on a spectacular 9 km stretch of pristine white beach, Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas is a one-of-a-kind five-star property with a regal presence, striking modern Arab architecture and uninterrupted views of the Arabian Gulf.
The resort offers 327 rooms and suites and 13 beach villas, and seven modern dining options including Italian and British/American classics, fresh seafood and a lively sports bar.
Key highlights of the property are the Bodylines Fitness Club, Zen the Spa at Rotana offering Turkish and Moroccan hammam, one of largest outdoor pools in the country, tennis courts, mini golf course and Aladdin’s Cave – a kids’ club with a lazy river, splash pool, cinema zone and water slide.
The resort’s authentic and personal service, inspired by traditional, generous Emirati hospitality, is impressive.
The beach is clean, calm and beautiful, while the resort is well laid out.
For those seeking an even more exclusive experience, a boutique villa retreat is located on Nurai Island which can be reached in 15 minutes by speedboat from a private pier on the island.
And if it’s luxury, exclusivity, quality and natural surroundings that you seek, the Saadiyat Beach Club is the place you must visit – a lifestyle venue that offers daytime relaxation on a private beach, cabanas, an outdoor pool, fitness centre and a selection of fine-dining.
Perhaps best known as the first international outpost of the iconic Louvre Museum, Saadiyat will welcome three more world-class museums in the coming years – the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, which will feature some of the rarest natural history specimens ever found on Earth.
Built at a cost of $1 billion, Louvre Abu Dhabi has an eclectic selection of art, artefacts and sculptures from across the world, a lot of them on loan from Louvre Paris.
Its central theme is to act as a bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe, much as Abu Dhabi has done for centuries as a key stop-over on the historic trade routes.
The forthcoming Abrahamic House, a future global beacon for tolerance and understanding, will cement the island as one of the world’s leading cultural centres.
Saadiyat’s position as a centre of educational excellence is cemented not just by the prestigious New York University Abu Dhabi offering a fully integrated liberal arts and science academic programme, but also from its hosting an international outpost of the renowned Berklee School of Music which has an established history of producing Grammy award winners.
Located close to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Mamsha Al Saadiyat is a vibrant beachfront community with a high-quality selection of restaurants and cafes, all connected via a promenade overlooking the Arabian Gulf.
Visitors with a keen interest in sustainability, conservation and responsible tourism can experience Saadiyat’s diverse ecosystem of protected wildlife and marine life which includes endangered hawksbill turtles, humpback and bottlenose dolphins, the native Arabian gazelle and over 300 species of birds.
Saadiyat also hosts a year-round programme of cultural, lifestyle, golf, wellness and culinary events and activities.
DCT Abu Dhabi recently appointed Miral to oversee the destination management strategy of Saadiyat Island.
The two entities have been continuously collaborating on growing the tourism sector in Abu Dhabi, the success of which has led to this renewed partnership that seeks to further advance the cultural tourism ecosystem.
According to Mohamed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral, this new partnership will showcase Saadiyat’s diverse array of cultural experiences that appeal on a global level.
“We are honoured and excited to be spearheading Saadiyat Island’s new strategy to position Saadiyat as the destination of choice, providing visitors with enriching luxury experiences. With such a unique offering, from diverse cultural institutions including the iconic Louvre Museum, to pristine white beaches and undisturbed wildlife, Saadiyat Island is well-positioned to boost Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector,” he declared.
Al Zaabi knows what he is talking about, judging from Miral’s track record as a creator of destinations, uniting people and places through unique, immersive and exciting experiences.
Miral’s assets encompass hospitality, leisure, sport, dining, retail, and entertainment destinations – including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, CLYMB Abu Dhabi, Yas Links Golf Course, Yas Mall, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Marina and 10 hotels, including The WB Abu Dhabi hotel and Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island located on waterfront destination Yas Bay.
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