Miral Asset Management, the government-owned developer behind Yas Island’s main leisure attractions, is looking for further opportunities elsewhere in Abu Dhabi, its chief executive said.
"I think this is the start of our expansion out of Yas Island," said Mohamed Al Zaabi, after unveiling a beachfront community project on the emirate's Corniche yesterday.
“Miral has been through a good learning curve, we’ve learned a lot through Yas Island, in terms of creating a destination for tourists and residents. I think we can capitalise on that for different projects in future.”
Miral was set up by Abu Dhabi government in 2011 to manage the entertainment components of the 25 million square foot Yas Island, alongside state-backed real estate developer Aldar, which oversees the island’s residential and retail strategy.
The capital is expanding its tourism, leisure and entertainment sectors in line with the emirate’s 2030 economic diversification strategy. A total of 4.4 million tourists visited Abu Dhabi in 2016, an 8 per cent increase from the previous year, according to official statistics.
Miral unveiled plans for the A'l Bahar beachfront development on Abu Dhabi Corniche, its first development outside Yas Island.
When complete, the complex will occupy 80,000 square metres and stretch 600 metres down the beach. It will include basketball and volleyball courts, an outdoor gym, a children's play area and 48 retail and food and beverage (F&B) units made from shipping containers.
Construction began in October and the project is targeted to complete by the end of March, Mr Al Zaabi said.
“[A’l Bahar] creates a new style of corniche for Abu Dhabi and we’re very excited about it,” he said. “We want it to be a place where people can come and enjoy their time – play, eat, be active, do outdoor yoga, water sports activities and hopefully go to an outdoor cinema.”
He declined to reveal the cost of the project.
Miral has leased “four or five” of the 22 F&B spaces so far. Most of the contracts will be yearly, with tenants likely to change regularly to provide variety.
Talks are ongoing with gym operators and one F&B operator that would anchor one of the two largest F&B units. Deals are expected to be reached soon, said Mr Al Zaabi.
“Once we see the results of this project we can go back to our kitchen and study more ideas [elsewhere in Abu Dhabi], but our focus is to deliver this project, and there is still more to do on Yas Island,” Mr Al Zaabi said.
“2017 was a very interesting year – a challenging year at points due to macroeconomic conditions, but we have been creative in attracting the right customers for the island,” he said.
“I think 2018 will be another good year because we are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the F1 race track, and are opening [more attractions].”
A Warner Bros World theme park is due to open in 2018, with the Middle East’s first SeaWorld park scheduled to open in 2022.