Abu Dhabi Ports starts work on Marsa Mina waterfront project

Marsa Mina is expected to be completed and open to the public in the first quarter of 2020

Abu Dhabi Ports Breaks Ground on Marsa Mina. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Ports
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Abu Dhabi Ports began construction of the city's new waterfront Marsa Mina project, a new development designed to attract tourists arriving at the capital by cruise ship and provide a workspace for small businesses.

Marsa Mina, which is located next to the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal, is expected to be open to the public in the first quarter of 2020, Abu Dhabi Ports said in a statement on Monday.

"The introduction of Marsa Mina will not only draw increased footfall from both international visitors and members of the local community but will widen the exposure of Abu Dhabi’s cruise culture to the global market," Mohamed Al Shamisi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi Ports, said.

Abu Dhabi is investing billions of dollars in industry, infrastructure and tourism to diversify its economy away from oil. The government announced the Ghadan 21 programme, a Dh50 billion package of reforms, to stimulate the local economy. The measures are aimed at attracting investors and top talent to work, invest, visit and live in the city.

The UAE's capital city has slashed tourism-related fees to stimulate its hospitality sector, set up a Dh600m fund to attract entertainment and business events and built tourist attractions such as the Louvre museum and Warner Brothers theme park to draw more tourists.

Marsa Mina, designed to rejuvenate the city’s historic port area at Mina Zayed, will feature food trucks and retail stores, family entertainment, playgrounds and open seating areas, according to the statement.

"In keeping with its maritime heritage, Marsa Mina’s retail units will be constructed from recycled shipping containers," Abu Dhabi Ports said.

The new waterfront project will also provide a dedicated workspace for small and medium-sized businesses in Abu Dhabi as the city focuses on developing its SME sector.

“To promote the growth of small and medium enterprises in Abu Dhabi, we have set aside development space in Marsa Mina dedicated to entrepreneurs and start-ups," Mr Al Shamisi said. "Businesses who are keen on establishing themselves in the port can expect a streamlined registration process."

Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi announced a series of initiatives designed to promote the growth of SMEs including government-supported loans for small companies. Under an agreement with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) the government will guarantee up to 75 per cent of bank loans to SMEs, in an effort to reduce risk and encourage lending.

Marsa Mina will support local SMEs by allocating an area to attract entrepreneurs with "innovative and interesting business concepts", Abu Dhabi Ports said.

The waterfront destination will also showcase artworks by young UAE artisits created from reused maritime equipment, it said.