His Royal Highness Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, has hailed plans for the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, which lies just offshore the UAE capital city, as “a cultural beacon.”
His comments came as the Prince, fourth in line to the British throne, made a private visit to the Saadiyat Island Cultural District exhibition at Abu Dhabi’s seven-star Emirates Palace Hotel.
The exhibition charts the design concepts behind the museums, art galleries and performing arts centres planned for the Cultural District, including the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum and the recently-announced Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel.
Prince Andrew was welcomed to the exhibition by His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and of Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the company behind the transformation of Saadiyat Island into a strategic tourism destination.
“I am very excited to have seen the plans for Saadiyat,” said HRH Prince Andrew. “It is an ambitious and innovative development, a cultural beacon in the region.”
Other designs on show in the exhibition include Zaha Hadid’s concept for a Performing Arts Centre and Japan’s Tadao Ando’s design for a Maritime Museum. The Cultural District will also feature a museum dedicated to the late UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which will be subject to an international design competition and a Biennale Park with 19 pavilions for the arts and culture.
The Cultural District is one of six distinct districts planned for Saadiyat Island – which translates from Arabic as ‘Island of Happiness.’ With the Cultural District Abu Dhabi is aiming to create a cultural asset for the world which will be an international gateway for cultural experience and exchange.
The Saadiyat Island Cultural Exhibition is open daily at Emirates Palace from 10am until 10pm. Admission is free.
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About Saadiyat Island's Cultural District:
In 2004, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) embarked on a vision of developing Saadiyat Island into a world-class, environmentally sensitive tourist destination that included as its centerpiece the creation of a new cultural district for Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. This vision was translated into a Masterplan through the appointment of the USA's Gensler Associates and under UAE Law No:12, the establishment of a wholly-owned public joint stock company, the Tourism Development Investment Company (TDIC).
Included within the massive project was an impressive array of features and amenities, including commercial and residential properties, resort hotels, recreational facilities, nature preserves, and perhaps most significantly, the idea to create a cluster of world class cultural facilities and institutions that would be operated in partnership with established museums and performing arts institutions from around the world. Abu Dhabi had embarked on one of the most ambitious urban and cultural development projects ever conceived.
The guiding principles for the Cultural District are to make it, by definition, a destination everyone in the worlds of art and culture would want to visit, annually and more than once. This will be achieved by building a series of permanent institutions - museums, performing arts centres, exhibition halls, educational institutions in the arts - that through its collections, architecture and programmes will become one of the greatest concentrations of cultural experiences anywhere in the world.
About Saadiyat Island:
Saadiyat Island - which translates from Arabic as Island of Happiness - is the largest single mixed-use development in the Arabian Gulf. The 27 square kilometre natural island - half the size of Bermuda - lies only 500 metres offshore Abu Dhabi island - the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Saadiyat Island is being developed into a complete visitor and residential destination.
Saadiyat Island represents one of the most important development opportunities in Abu Dhabi's history. The island, which has 30kms of water frontage and boasts many natural eco-features including mangrove forests, is being developed as a strategic international tourism destination and marks a new era in the rapid evolution of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates which form the UAE Federation.
Saadiyat Island will be developed in three phases with total completion scheduled for 2018. The masterplan envisages six highly individual districts and includes 29 hotels, including an iconic 7-star property, three marinas with combined berths for around 1,000 boats, museums and cultural centres, two golf courses, civic and leisure facilities, sea-view apartments and elite villas.
Saadiyat Island is expected to be home to a community of more than 150,000 people - the same population size as Chang Mai in Thailand, Oxford in the UK or Hollywood in the USA.
Saadiyat Island will be linked to the main Abu Dhabi island and the Abu Dhabi mainland via two, 10-lane freeways making the destination easily accessible to Abu Dhabi International Airport, which will be just a 25 kilometre drive away.
Saadiyat Island is being developed by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), an independent public joint stock company of which Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the sole shareholder. TDIC's strategy is to dispose of development land on the island to private investors who will each develop their sites in accordance with the masterplan and supporting planning regulations and design guidelines.
About Tourism Development & Investment Company:
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is a public joint stock company established under Law No: 12 of 2005 as decreed by the Abu Dhabi Ruler and UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. TDIC is an independent organisation empowered to manage the tourism investment zones of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which directs and implements strategy for the expansion of the emirate's tourism sector. TDIC will develop the real estate assets that support ADTA's mission of assisting UAE economic diversification through tourism development.
TDIC, launched with an initial paid-up capital of AED100 million (US $27.5 million) with its shareholding fully owned by ADTA, operates along strictly commercial lines with its projects being self-sustaining and economically feasible. Its activities include creating development and tourism related concepts for specific sites and locations, disposing of, or repositioning, government-owned tourism related assets, entering into joint ventures with investment partners for assets such as hotels or residential products, as well as serving as the master developer for large scale projects.
About Abu Dhabi:
Spread over 87,340 square kilometres, Abu Dhabi is the largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates and accounts for more than 85% of the country's total landmass. The UAE is one of the six members of the Arabian Gulf Co-operation Council.
Abu Dhabi city, built on the largest of almost 200 natural offshore islands in the emirate, is the capital both of the emirate and of the UAE. It is the federal seat of government and home to most ministries and institutions, embassies, state broadcasting facilities and oil companies.
Abu Dhabi's population is currently around 1.6 million and is expected to grow by 6.8 per cent per annum over the next decade to a projected 3.4 million by 2015.
Abu Dhabi has an estimated 9.2% of the world's proven oil reserves and 4% of its total proven natural gas reserves. The emirate has a per capita income of US $46,185 - the highest in the world. Realising the challenges posed by the country's heavy economic reliance on finite carbon resources, the emirate's leadership is actively pursuing economic diversification.
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