30th January 2015
A director of our hospitality sister company recently attended the CIT Magazine Middle East Forum, which was hosted at Yas Island in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Just about 5 years old, Yas Island demonstrates what can be achieved with determination, money and a desire to do business. Simon had an unsurprisingly positive experience to share with us...
From our arrival at the recently constructed airport, transfers to the Yas Viceroy and beyond, clearly the purpose of the forum was to showcase Abu Dhabi and its "open for business" attitude. Yas Island itself is just 15 minutes or so from the airport, and is a mixed use development aimed squarely at business and recreation. From a plethora of hotels (in addition to the aforementioned Yas Viceroy, there are a range of 3-5* properties including Crowne Plaza, Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Staybridge Suites to name a few) to a race circuit that hosts the Etihad Formula 1 Grand Prix each year (perfect for driving activities), the site also contains superb conference facilities at the Yas Event Centre, plus opportunities for entertaining at venues such as the new du Arena.
Want a bit of fun? Then take to the world's fastest roller coaster (Maranello Rosso at Ferrari World) or head to your exclusive area at Yas Waterpark. Moving on from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi city is a mix of beautiful relaxing Corniche - with the beach and sea one side and a selection of high-rise construction the other, to islands set aside in their entirety for nature such as the Eastern Mangrove. The next major area of development is the gulf-front Saadiyat Island - just 20 minutes further on from Yas Island, and around the same to the centre of Abu Dhabi City, this current desert is being transformed by mixed use development including beach front resort hotels, private housing and commercial enterprise. But its 'piece de resistance' will be the cultural district which will include the Guggenheim and Louvre museums, together with other facilities to display the art of the Middle East.
And of course, if you’re looking for culture then Abu Dhabi is right at the heart of the region. Travel around an hour from Abu Dhabi City and you’re into the desert on the edge of the ‘Empty Quarter’ – a region that stretches across the Arabian Peninsula through Saudi Arabia. Here you can experience the nomadic life of the Emirati before the discovery of oil changed the life of the inhabitants of the area. With such a vast array of event spaces, activities and opportunities, Abu Dhabi really demonstrated how they are ready to do business around the world – and why the world should beat a door to the UAE. Americans use the phrase “Have a nice day!” and I’m never quite sure they mean it – in Abu Dhabi they surely do, and more importantly they’ll really make sure it happens!