Build it and they will come
Earlier this week, Abu Dhabi-based developer Miral Asset Management – the company behind capitalcity attractions including Yas Waterworld, Ferarri World and Yas Marina – unveiled a Dh12 billion development plan for the southern tip of Yas Island. The scheme includes a new home for the Twofour54 media zone, a waterfront promenade, an inhabited pier and an 18,000-capacity stadium, Yas Arena, which according to Miral’s sales pitch, will become “an epic centre of energy and entertainment”.
Stadiums have been a recurring feature in plans for Abu Dhabi since the 1960s, when German architects Jörn-Peter SchmidtThomsen and Conrad Roland are said to have developed a tensile, net-based design for the capital that, if it had been realised, would have echoed the 1972 Olympic Stadium in Munich.
In 1974, the founding president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed, ordered Abu Dhabi Municipality to develop a stadium as part of a bid to host the Asian Games, and by 1975, the commission had been awarded to French architect Henri Colboc. He had previously worked on the design of the Parc des Princes alongside Roger Taillibert, the designer of Abu Dhabi’s Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel. Captured by the German photographer Wolfgang Volz soon after its inauguration in 1979, the sporting potential of Colboc’s modernist masterpiece was finally realised in 1982 when the stadium hosted the Gulf Cup of Nations finals. The UAE finished third, behind Kuwait and Bahrain, after a 3-1 victory over Oman.
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