Reuters - 25/4/2006
Abu Dhabi on Monday launched a $27 billion project to develop a luxury island resort with golf courses, marinas, hotels and more than 8,000 villas in the latest sign of a tourism investment boom in the Gulf.
The 100 billion dirhams ($27.23 billion) project aims to develop Saadiyat Island as a flagship resort for tourism in the Gulf emirate.
The island, located just off the UAE coast, will have 19 km (12 miles) of beaches, two golf courses, 29 hotels with 7,000 rooms, marinas for 1,000 boats, more than 8,000 private villas and 38,000 apartments as well as museums and cultural centres.
The newly established state-owned Tourism Development & Investment Co. will oversee the development of residential and tourism areas on the 27 sq km (10.4 sq mile) island with the participation of foreign and local investors, officials said.
The island development, due to be completed by 2020, is the latest of a raft of construction projects recently launched in the United Arab Emirates' capital, which plans to triple the number of its tourist visitors to 3 million by 2015.
Foreign investors can acquire property on 99-year leases or 50-year renewable leases.
"This project shows that Abu Dhabi is opening up, be it to international investors or tourists. International and regional investors have expressed interest in the projects and they will have a major role," said Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA).
"The state is funding infrastructure projects of more than 5.5 billion dirhams, and will also invest in the attractions such as museums," he told Reuters.
UAE's bustling trading hub Dubai is witnessing a major construction and tourism boom. But Abu Dhabi, with more conservative social norms than its liberal neighbour, has adopted a slower pace.
"(This) is in keeping with our desire to ... ensure a high calibre of visitor and the safeguarding of our natural assets and culture for the benefit of future generations," said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun al-Nahayan, chairman of ADTA.
The UAE has the largest share of the more than $1 trillion worth of construction and other projects planned or under way in the Gulf Arab region, Iran and Iraq, according to business tracking firm MEED Projects.