Abu Dhabi is setting up a Dh600 million fund to attract entertainment and business events to the emirate, as part of wider plans to spur economic growth, draw foreign investors and boost tourism.
The new fund by Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) will finance projects in the events sector and is expected to yield returns of more than Dh1.6 billion for the local economy, the authority said on Tuesday, without providing a timeline.
"This initiative will work to attract the best entertainment and business event organisers from across the world to consider Abu Dhabi as a place to invest their time and efforts," said Saif Ghobash, undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi.
The fund is part of the Ghadan 21 programme, a Dh50bn package of reforms by the Abu Dhabi government to stimulate the local economy. The measures are aimed at attracting investors and top talent to work, invest, live and visit Abu Dhabi by easing visa restrictions, slashing government service fees and building tourist attractions such as museums and theme parks.
The so-called "mega events fund" will focus on developing entertainment and business activities and festivals. It will provide multipurpose financing to attract global entertainment companies to Abu Dhabi, help upgrade existing events in the UAE and also appeal to regional companies to consider Abu Dhabi as a location to stage events.
The capital is working to grow its travel and tourism industry as part of diversifying the economy to reduce dependence on oil. The government has increased efforts to promote Abu Dhabi as a culture and heritage destination. With the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the only regional presence of France's world famous museum, the emirate has widened its arts and culture offering. It is also working to promote itself as a destination for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.
The new projects backed by the fund are expected to increase international visitor numbers to Abu Dhabi and support businesses in the events industry. The programmes are also expected to return annually to the UAE capital.
Abu Dhabi recorded a marginal increase in the number of hotel guests in the first quarter as the capital hosted a range of events and opened new tourist attractions. The emirate hosted nearly 1.3 million hotel guests in the first three months of the year, up 0.5 per cent from 1.28 million guests during the same period last year, according to the DCT Abu Dhabi. Hotels recorded a 16 per cent increase in revenues during the period as occupancy levels reached 79 per cent and average room revenue increased 15 per cent.
DCT Abu Dhabi has identified some potential partners and beneficiaries for the fund, including global companies, promoters and touring acts that could potentially make the UAE capital a base for their operations.
Local partners including Miral, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Live Nation International, Informa Middle East, Flash Entertainment, IMG International, Messe Frankfurt Exhibitions and Conferences, Yas Marina Circuit, and other event companies are interested in partnering with the fund, DCT Abu Dhabi said.