A Glit­ter­ing Trans­for­ma­tion

Vi­sion 2030 is lead­ing the emi­rate’s move to be­come an in­vest­ment-friendly desti­na­tion

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Neha Gupta Kapoor

Abu Dhabi is look­ing to be­come an in­vest­ment-friendly desti­na­tion

In July 2016, Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port (AUH) re­ported re­ceiv­ing 2.26 mil­lion pas­sen­ger traf­fic, a big leap – by 7.9 per­cent – from the same month the year prior. In­di­ans alone made up about 1.76 mil­lion of those pas­sen­gers. The air­port says, that of all the na­tion­al­i­ties it re­ceives, In­di­ans, Pak­ista­nis, Qataris, Bri­tish, and Saudi Ara­bi­ans (in this or­der) form the largest traf­fic into Abu Dhabi.

“Pas­sen­ger num­bers have in­creased at dou­ble digit rates ev­ery year, ”the air­port’s web­site reads. AUH fur­ther ex­pects its pas­sen­ger traf­fic to cross 2.7 mil­lion next year. And to ac­com­mo­date this num­ber, con­struc­tion of the new Mid­field Ter­mi­nal Build­ing is sched­uled to be com­pleted by De­cem­ber 2017.

AUH says: “The MTB will be­come the pri­mary gate­way for pas­sen­gers trav­el­ing through Abu Dhabi, and the fu­ture home of Eti­had Air­ways, the na­tional car­rier of the UAE.”

Through its ex­pan­sion, AUH looks to en­cour­age Abu Dhabi’s eco­nomic growth by pro­vid­ing easy in­ter­na­tional con­nec­tiv­ity, mak­ing the emi­rate eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to the world. The air­port’s fore­sight is in tan­dem with Abu Dhabi’s Vi­sion 2030. The project, ini­ti­ated by His High­ness Sheikh Khal­ifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pres­i­dent of the United Arab Emi­rates and ruler of Abu Dhabi, is vi­tal in grow­ing the emi­rate’s wealth.

Un­der his vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship, the Ur­ban Plan­ning Coun­cil, en­thu­si­as­ti­cally sup­ports this ex­pan­sion through “as­so­ci­ated land uses, to en­sure the devel­op­ment of pro­fes­sion­ally de­signed, sus­tain­able and well-man­aged ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, which in­cor­po­rate world-class trans­port and in­fra­struc­ture sys­tems and sup­port the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Eco­nomic Vi­sion 2030 and En­vi­ron­ment Vi­sion 2030.”

On its web­site (upc.gov.ae), the coun­cil de­fines the five ba­sic steps taken to cul­ti­vate Vi­sion 2030: • Cre­at­ing a sus­tain­able emi­rate that pro­tects re­sources for cur­rent

and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. • Sup­port­ing and en­abling eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and growth. • Raising the stan­dard of liv­ing across the emi­rate. • Pro­tect­ing, en­hanc­ing and pro­mot­ing Arab and Emi­rati cul­ture

and tra­di­tions. • Em­brac­ing con­tem­po­rary liv­ing and re­spect­ing the di­verse

cul­tures of those re­sid­ing in Abu Dhabi.

In the Zone

Al Maryah Is­land is one such project that has been in devel­op­ment since 2007. As of Oc­to­ber 2015, the is­land has been des­ig­nated as a Fi­nan­cial Free Zone, a first for Abu Dhabi. The goal is to help di­ver­sify the emi­rate’s econ­omy for fu­ture growth and sus­tain­abil­ity away from its de­pen­dence on its hy­dro­car­bon sec­tor, which cur­rently con­trib­utes 55 per­cent to Abu Dhabi’s GDP.

Free zones in the UAE are at­trac­tive to for­eign in­vestors be­cause they work as in­de­pen­dent gov­ern­ing bod­ies, dif­fer­ent from the le­gal frame­work of the city in which they are lo­cated. Ex­emp­tions from taxes, du­ties and for­eign own­er­ship re­stric­tions are the big­gest ben­e­fits of in­vest­ing in such zones. In case of Abu Dhabi’s Free Zone, com­pa­nies can be 100 per­cent for­eign-owned and are ex­empt from taxes for 50 years.

All 281 acres of this re­claimed land are be­ing de­vel­oped by Mubadala Real Es­tate and In­fra­struc­ture, in part­ner­ship with lo­cal and for­eign com­pa­nies to pro­mote Abu Dhabi’s re­tail, health care, hos­pi­tal­ity and fi­nance sec­tors. Apart from of­fice tow­ers, the is­land is also cre­at­ing a life­style space with parks, malls, ho­tels, shops, restau­rants, cafes and a hospi­tal too.

“On Al Maryah Is­land we have brought to life a vi­sion­ary con­cept for a mixed-use neigh­bor­hood which is in­te­grated with the ex­ist­ing ur­ban frame­work and also meets the de­mands of busi­nesses and con­sumers alike, ”says Ali Eid AlMheiri, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mubadala Real Es­tate and In­fra­struc­ture. “As the mas­ter de­vel­oper of Al Maryah Is­land, we are pleased to of­fer third party de­vel­op­ers the op­por­tu­nity to in­vest in this prime area of Abu Dhabi which ben­e­fits from the ex­ist­ing first class in­fra­struc­ture and the suc­cess­fully com­pleted real es­tate de­vel­op­ments.”

Cleve­land Clinic Abu Dhabi is one of the ma­jor de­vel­op­ments on the is­land, a part­ner­ship be­tween Mubadala and US-based Cleve­land Clinic. The 364-bed, state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity has been op­er­at­ing since March 2015. From the hospi­tal, a bridge of­fers ac­cess to The Gal­le­ria – Abu Dhabi’s lux­ury mall that is also home to Four Sea­sons and Rose­wood, lux­ury busi­ness ho­tels.

Gulf Re­lated, a real es­tate com­pany is de­vel­op­ing an­other mall on the is­land, Al Maryah Cen­tral, which is ex­pected to open in 2018. It will in­clude over 500 re­tail stores, 100 food options, 20 cin­ema screens and five ur­ban parks. De­vel­op­ers say it prom­ises to be Abu Dhabi’s “next gen­er­a­tion mall.”

Of­fice tow­ers on Al Maryah Is­land are Al Sila, Al Sarab, Al Maqam and Al Khatem. They are home to over 40 global blue chip com­pa­nies. In ad­di­tion, the Al Hi­lal Bank tower houses com­mer­cial space and Far­glory’s Maryah Plaza of­fers res­i­den­tial units de­signed by cel­e­brated Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Sir Richard Rogers.

To­gether, the malls, ho­tels, hospi­tal and com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial tow­ers form Abu Dhabi Global Mar­ket­place. The suc­cess­ful launch of the en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly ADGM marks the first project in the UAE to achieve LEED Core and Shell (LEEDCS) Gold pre-cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the US Green Build­ing Coun­cil.

In ad­di­tion, ADGM has gone a step fur­ther to aug­ment the im­por­tance of Abu Dhabi as a busi­ness hub. ADGM and the emi­rate’s stock mar­ket, the Abu Dhabi Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change (ADX), are work­ing on the fea­si­bil­ity of set­ting up a new fi­nan­cial ex­change on Al Maryah Is­land, sign­ing a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to “foster bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.”

In an in­ter­view with the UAE news­pa­per The Na­tional, Ahmed Al Sayegh, the chair­man of ADGM said, “We will ex­plore and de­velop a wider range of fi­nan­cial prod­ucts and ser­vice of­fer­ings that can be avail­able to, and traded by, both lo­cal and global mar­ket par­tic­i­pants and in­vestors in ADGM.”

Ac­cord­ing to Hamad Ab­dul­lah Al Shamsi, the chair­man of ADX, the part­ner­ship will help achieve Abu Dhabi’s Vi­sion 2030 bring­ing eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion by tak­ing the load off the emi­rate’s oil sec­tors and fo­cus­ing on other rev­enue gen­er­at­ing streams.

Plenty to See & Do

While Abu Dhabi shows a promis­ing fu­ture in health care, hos­pi­tal­ity, fi­nance and other such non-oil re­lated sec­tors, its leisure tourism has also been on a steady rise with the city’s trans­for­ma­tion from an un­der­de­vel­oped desert area to a glossy city, a process which be­gan af­ter the dis­cov­ery of oil in the late 1950s.

About 90 per­cent of UAE’s oil re­serves are in Abu Dhabi, pro­vid­ing a steady flow of rev­enue. In turn, this fu­eled fur­ther devel­op­ment and in the bar­gain, in­creased the num­ber of guests it at­tracts – not just vis­i­tors, but for­eign in­vestors as well.

Work on the much-an­tic­i­pated se­cond Lou­vre in Abu Dhabi is re­port­edly“95 per­cent com­plete ”and the open­ing is ex­pected to be an­nounced soon. Lou­vre Abu Dhabi, like its Paris coun­ter­part, will show­case art, manuscripts, sculp­tures, an­tiques, cul­tural pieces and other ar­ti­facts. The dis­play will have a global fla­vor, with in­flu­ences from cul­tures and so­ci­eties world­wide.

An interesting fact about the Lou­vre of the Mid­dle East is that its wa­ter sys­tem is in­spired by an­cient Ara­bian en­gi­neer­ing meth­ods and will func­tion much like it did in his­toric times – ef­fec­tively. “Mu­seum City, ”the theme of Lou­vre Abu Dhabi, is in­spired by Ara­bic towns and“low- ly­ing Arab set­tle­ments. ”It is made up of a clus­ter of about 55 build­ings. lou­vre­abud­habi.ae

Yas Is­land on the out­skirts of Abu Dhabi is an en­ter­tain­ment zone with a shop­ping cen­ter, beach, wa­ter park, golf course, yacht­ing fa­cil­i­ties and the ex­cit­ing Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit which hosts the an­nual F1 Eti­had Air­ways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. When the of­fi­cial races aren’t on, Yas Rac­ing al­lows you to book a “track ex­pe­ri­ence” that in­cludes a quick tu­to­rial and es­corted drives. ya­sis­land.ae

Fer­rari World Abu Dhabi is the world’s largest in­door theme park with the world’s steep­est roller coaster at a 51-de­gree in­cline. This is in ad­di­tion to a host of other at­trac­tions at the park: a sim­u­la­tor that takes you over Ital­ian land­scape, and an­other one that takes you on a ride with a vir­tual F1 pro­fes­sional, shows, mu­seum, Fer­rari car showroom, and more. fer­rari­world­abud­habi.com

Al Wathba Camel Race Track, 28 miles east of Abu Dhabi is built spe­cially for camels to race and en­ter­tain spectators. En­ergy at the tracks is con­ta­gious and the ex­pe­ri­ence is some­thing to take home. Watch­ing the camels gal­lop at that speed isn’t an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence. Races take place on week­ends and on pub­lic hol­i­days. vis­itabud­habi.ae

Abu Dhabi Fal­con Hospi­tal, the world’s largest hospi­tal for these birds of prey, of­fers in­sight into ev­ery­thing there is to know about the bird. It starts with a brief his­tory of fal­conry, use of fal­cons in mod­ern times and ends with the op­por­tu­nity to han­dle one of these mag­nif­i­cent birds your­self. fal­con­hos­pi­tal.com. BT

Op­po­site page: Abu Dhabi from the sea; This page: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; Fer­rari World; Al Wathba Camel Race Track

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