Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, Abu Dhabi Ports today has officially opened Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, offering cruise ship passengers a new beach destination with unmatched tourism experiences.
The Beach was officially inaugurated by His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), alongside a number of high-profile officials and strategic partners to celebrate yet another strategic partnership between Abu Dhabi’s leading entities in the cruise tourism sector including Abu Dhabi Ports, TCA Abu Dhabi, and Etihad Airways.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, said: “The development of new economic and tourism projects across the Western Region is a key priority for Abu Dhabi’s visionary government led by the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“Under the vision and mandate of our wise leadership, we have redoubled efforts towards the completion of infrastructure projects and vital facilities, as part of our ambitious plans to fulfil the development needs of our nation now and into the future. This has been enabled by the coordination and collaboration between various government entities who are all working towards the goals of Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030,” His Highness added.
Noting that the development of Western Region ports has demonstrated the support of our wise leadership for the region’s growth, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that the projects currently underway are well-aligned with the comprehensive economic diversification plan pursued by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. His Highness also pointed out that the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach will further stimulate the tourism sector in the island.
“Sir Bani Yas Island is one of the UAE’s largest natural reserves open to the public. The Government of Abu Dhabi’s continued investment in its development will help to turn it into one of best tourist destinations in the world. The cruise terminal is another boost for Sir Bani Yas Island as a leading tourism destination,” His Highness elaborated.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan also thanked Abu Dhabi Ports for its role in developing Western Region ports, adding that Abu Dhabi Ports is one of the key engines of the national economy, helping to drive trade and economic diversification, which will bring even greater prosperity for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Commenting on the occasion, His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi and TDIC said: “This unique cruise beach is unrivalled in the region and has been developed to meet the demand for a beach call addition to the itineraries of the world’s leading cruise lines.”
“Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach gives Abu Dhabi a competitive advantage by enabling double-emirate calls and demonstrates the effectiveness of the emirate’s coordinated stakeholder approach to the development of Abu Dhabi’s cruise sector. Anchoring at this multiple award-winning nature-conservation desert island adds a unique proposition to an already diverse array of passenger shore excursions,” added His Excellency.
This remarkable cruise beach brings a unique opportunity to attract regional cruise itineraries and enhances cruise operators’ offering. It will play a vital role in increasing cruise passenger traffic which is estimated to grow by 9 percent in the 2016-17 season.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports, said: “Abu Dhabi Ports has spearheaded the development of the cruise tourism industry in Abu Dhabi by following an approach marked by three principles; investment in infrastructure, creating a niche in the growing passenger market and ensuring maximum integration across the industry supply chain. We are excited about the official opening of Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach as part of our developments in the Western Region which reiterates our commitment to enriching the cruise experiences we offer.”
“Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach was developed with the needs of cruise liners and passengers in mind; beginning with tailor made operational solutions, and ending with incorporating unique beach and wildlife activities. We are confident that this project will position Abu Dhabi competitively on the international cruise destinations map, consequently supporting the economic diversification vision of our wise leadership,” he added.
Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach is the Gulf region’s only dedicated desert island cruise stopover and was developed in keeping with the local culture and growing demand for world-class cruise infrastructure and experiences. It extends over a 1.3 km of land, with the capacity to double in size and scale to meet future demands of the market, boasting an extensive range of facilities and excursions that utilise the island’s beautiful wildlife and natural reserve, including eco-tourism wildlife tours and three luxury hotels on the Island itself.
Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company of the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), is the exclusive shore excursions and activities provider for Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach during the 2016/2017 season.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Sir Bani Yas will be a hugely popular new destination for cruise passengers arriving in the Arabian Gulf this cruise season. Together with our partners at the TCA Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Ports and TDIC, we have invested in a unique product and experience to support leading cruise liners bringing their ships to the region. Following so soon after the opening of the Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal at Zayed Port last year, today’s opening ceremony marks another important milestone as we look to develop a world leading cruise industry for the UAE.”
The official launch of Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach coincided with the arrival of the 18-deck vessel, MSC Fantasia, which made Abu Dhabi Cruise terminal its winter-sun home and set sail to Sir Bani Yas with almost 4000 passengers who embarked on the beach for an unrivalled cruise beach experience. The Beach is expected to attract more than 60,000 passengers from 39 stopover cruise line calls in its first season alone.
Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “We have now become the first global cruise line to call at the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, with our own MSC Fantasia. This is a key milestone for us as we continue to develop our offering in the Middle East, bringing our guests to new exciting ports of call, exotic destinations and luxury shore excursions during the winter season. The beautiful turquoise seas and busy, cosmopolitan ports in the region offer winter cruisers the perfect blend of culture, sightseeing, leisure activities and relaxation all whilst enjoying a distinctive MSC Cruises experience. With the introduction of MSC Fantasia in the region, our guests will enjoy one of our most modern ships, designed to meet the needs of a wide range of cruise guests, especially families”.