Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 November 2020

Hudayriyat Island: Our guide to Abu Dhabi's stunning adventure playground

New section includes BMX and skate park, sports courts, restaurants and a glamping area

Abu Dhabi's latest entertainment and sporting destination will only be a bridge away once it opens to the public on Tuesday.

Hudayriyat Island, once a sandy extension to the emirate's main island, has been transformed into a leisure hub containing activities for children and adults alike.

The island's latest development, named Hudayriyat Leisure and Entertainment District, has begun taking bookings for a host of indoor and outdoor facilities.

What is Hudayriyat Island?

If you live in Abu Dhabi, Hudayriyat Island has been right under your nose for years.

Plans to develop the island were first announced in 2009, but did not initially progress beyond the construction of a suspension bridge that was closed to traffic and became known among residents as the "bridge to nowhere".

The project was revived in 2017, with plans to turn the 3,000-hectare island into a mixed use community with an emphasis on fitness and nature.

In May 2018, the public were able to cross the bridge for the first time to access an undisturbed 600-metre beach with running and cycling tracks, water sports, a bouncy castle and a children's playground.

Since then, the island has been popular among cyclists and runners, and was chosen as the venue for triathlons and obstacle courses.

It was only in October that people got a sneak peek into the new developments that would transform the island into a popular destination for Emiratis and residents.

A visit from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, revealed areas for camping, dining and a lot more sports facilities.

"We aim to develop inclusive and unique projects, which encourage a healthier lifestyle for the whole community," Sheikh Mohamed said last month.

How to get there

A suspension bridge extends Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan Street (19th street) at the junction of Khalifa Al Mubarak Street.

The island is popular among cyclists who ride their bikes right over the bridge using dedicated lanes.

There is a large car park on the island for those who prefer to drive. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, a barrier has been placed between the car park and entry to the island to carry out temperature scans and control the number of visitors.

The new extension that can be reached by turning right after crossing the main bridge.

What is new?

A new district filled with more sporting facilities, activities for children and a camping area will open on Tuesday.

The development includes an obstacle-course-race park, high-rope park, BMX Track, where cyclists can perform stunts, and a skate park, where skaters can train and compete.

Other attractions include new dining options, a water park and heritage walk.

Ahmed Al Zaabi, associate director at developer Modon said the island hoped to attract tourists, once the emirate resumes entry to international visitors.

“Hudayriyat island is a solid new addition to Abu Dhabi’s tourism portfolio," he said.

The island was designed with Abu Dhabi's "rich diversity" in mind.

"We look forward to welcoming visitors to showcase the variety of offerings.”

Marsana

At the heart of the island lies Marsana, a waterfront promenade with room for more than a dozen food and beverage outlets.

In addition to a skate park and a children’s splash park and play area, there is easy access to the public beach, cycle paths, and a marina with a wooden pier.

“We have an outdoor gym here that everybody can enjoy to have a different experience training [in front of the beach],” said Mr Al Zaabi.

The gym includes of basic equipment, battle ropes and a climbing net.

The area also has its own beach overlooking a #Hudayriyat sign, which can be seen from the other side of the island.

A viewing pier and an area with free-seating are also available for visitors.

Swimmers have free access to the beach, which extends over 24,000 square metres, of which 600m are dedicated to swimming

On the corner of Marsana, lies a marina where up to 40 boats can dock. These spaces must be rented out from management.

The splash park for children includes challenges like a climbing structure and a treasure-hunt inside a ship but will remain closed until Covid-19 is over, said Mr Al Zaabi.

Bab Al Nojoum

The island's camping section will allow visitors to book a stay at either standard tents, which fit up to two people, or a luxury tent. The luxury tents can house groups of four or six but an option for a two-floor tent with private beach access is also on offer.

Bab Al Nojoum also includes a camping area for families, and camper van options.

The standard tents can be rented for Dh150 to Dh300 per night, depending on size. Campers will also have access to toilets, showers and BBQ grills that have been set up in the area.

Luxury tents are also available for about Dh1,000.

Some tents are attached to vans, that can fit beds and have rooftop seating.

And the most luxurious tents are in the form of beach cabanas, with their own small swimming pool.

Only Bab Al Nojoum registered guests have access to the beach on site, said Mr Al Zaabi.

A restaurant that offers fresh grills and a bonfire is also available on site.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 8, 2020. The new Hudayriyat Leisure and Entertainment District at Hudayriyat Island. Tents for rent at the Bab Al Nojoum area. Victor Besa/The National Section: NA Reporter: Haneen Dajani
A new camping area on Hudayriyat Island. Victor Besa / The National

Sports321

The sports area of the island can be found near the Bab Al Nojoum section. It includes indoor and outdoor facilities to encourage visitors to exercise and maintain active lifestyles.

New amenities include a full-sized football pitch, as well as tennis, basketball and badminton courts. Six 400m jogging tracks and cycling paths have also been set up across the island.

Up to 10km of wide, shaded tracks allow for cycling and walking.

The dedicated Bike Park includes three different trails aimed at beginners (3km), intermediate (5km) and advanced cyclists (10km).

Visitors can also enjoy recreational exercise at the 300m Floating Track.

The area also includes a massive indoor gymnasium that consists of tennis, volleyball and basketball nets, and another football field.

“This is for people to enjoy when it is too hot outside,” said Mr Al Zaabi.

Those seeking more adventure can take on the 31 obstacles at the high-rope-park, starting with a climbing wall and ending with a zip-line.

“The obstacles are for all ages,” said Hadi Fakhoury, managing director of Circuit X, which developed the adventure games on the island.

“And there is a building only for first-aid [nearby],” he said.

Circuit X

Billed as an "adventure hub", this area comprises four sections: a BMX Track, Splash Park, High Rope Park and Skate Park.

Visitors can also take part in an obstacle course at OCR Park, which merges racing with endurance fitness.

Hudayriyat Heritage Trail

The Hudayriyat Heritage Trail is located along the waterfront. The 1.2km trail begins from Marsana.

Visitors can become acquainted with the historical and cultural significance of the island with educational signs and artworks along the path.

A guide will lead visitors across the island, telling tales of the past and traditional topics such as pearl diving.

How to book:

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, visitors are required to book their activities in advance on the island's website.

Updated: November 9, 2020 04:34 PM

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