TDIC backs development of Saadiyat Island
Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), which is overseeing the mixed-use development of Saadiyat Island, which lies just 500 metres offshore the United Arab Emirate’s capital city, has pledged to protect archaeological sites uncovered on the island.
Saadiyat Island – which translates from Arabic into Island of Happiness – is being developed in three phases to transform the unique 27 square kilometre natural asset into a strategic international tourism destination.
“Over 20 archaeological sites have been identified on Saadiyat Island, most of them concentrated in two groups on rocky outcrops and dating back to the late Islamic period, over the last few hundred years,” explained Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and Managing Director of TDIC.
“The discoveries include fireplaces, the remains of small buildings and scatters of pottery and seashells which give an indication of the way of life of former Saadiyat inhabitants.”
The findings came to light following an archaeological baseline study carried out last year by a team from the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, ADIAS. The study was commissioned by the ADTA as part of a general environmental study undertaken in line with government legislation relating to development projects.
“In association with ADIAS and Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, we are now planning to protect these sites,” said Al Muhairi. “Further studies have been commissioned which involve a detailed mapping of the sites, to be followed by test excavations and the collection of material for further analysis.
“The protection and promotion of Abu Dhabi’s cultural and archaeological heritage is an important part of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s strategy of introducing the emirate to foreign visitors. With important archaeological sites on our flagship development project, we will seek not only to protect them, but also to investigate ways in which the sites, and the information to be gained from them, can be integrated into our tourism development strategy.”
ADIAS Executive Director, Peter Hellyer, has welcomed the TDIC initiative.
“As a result of the development of the last 30 or 40 years, very little is known about the past pattern of life in the vicinity of the island-city of Abu Dhabi,” he said. “This joint project provides us with an opportunity to learn much more about the way in which past inhabitants of Abu Dhabi and neighbouring islands lived, and will help us to understand the patterns of human settlement in the area.”
Under a fully master-planned community Saadiyat Island will have six distinct districts delivering a multitude of experiences with complementary environments and all connected by a palm-lined arterial freeway. It will have 19 kilometres of white, sandy beach, two golf courses, 29 hotels with over 7,000 rooms, including an iconic 7-star property, three marinas with berthing for 1,000 vessels, over 8,000 private villas, resorts set on spectacular beaches, over 38,000 apartments and eight iconic ‘string of pearl’ architectural landmarks housing museums, a concert hall, art gallery and major cultural offerings.