Eastern Mangroves opens in Abu Dhabi as hotel brands rush to UAE

By Rebecca Bundhun  www.thenational.ae

The long-awaited Eastern Mangroves hotel in Abu Dhabi is to launch today, accounting for some of the thousands of hotel rooms scheduled to open across the country in the coming months.

The long-awaited Eastern Mangroves hotel in Abu Dhabi is to launch today. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National

The long-awaited Eastern Mangroves hotel in Abu Dhabi is to launch today. Fatima Al Marzooqi/The National

About 7,000 new hotel rooms and hotel apartments are expected to open in Abu Dhabi alone in the next 24 months, according to research by Christie + Co, a hotel consultancy. The UAE “is the place in the region to have your flag or to have your brand and that will continue to be the case”, said Gavin Samson, the managing director of Christie + Co in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Eastern Mangroves hotel is managed by the luxury operator Anantara and was built by Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company.

There has been a flurry of luxury hotels opening their doors for the first time in the past year, including resorts on Saadiyat Island. Properties expected to open this year in Abu Dhabi include a Ritz-Carlton hotel and a St Regis hotel on the Corniche.

Analysts said the Eastern Mangroves resort, which also has a residential component, would bring something new to the market in the capital. More info

TDIC’s construction village receives MEED award for sustainability

Source:  www.abudhabicityguide.com

Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), master developer of Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi, was awarded the Sustainability MEED Quality Award for Projects 2012 for the Saadiyat Construction Village – a model of best practice that was built to house workers employed by contractors during the construction phase of the island.

Saadiyat Construction Village

Saadiyat Construction Village

The project was nominated by HLG Leighton Contracting, who constructed the building. TDIC’s Chief Development Officer, Nabil Al Kendi, and Leighton’s General Manager, UAE Infrastructure, Jeremy Truebridge, received the award last night at a ceremony at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort ’&’ Spa.

The Saadiyat Construction Village’s facilities have set a new benchmark for workers’ living standards in the region. It currently houses more than 10,000 workers and covers 40 hectares, and facilities include shops, Internet booths, recreational parks, laundry facilities, dining areas, and sports and leisure facilities such as a cricket pitch, multi-purpose courts and landscaped gardens.

The Saadiyat Construction Village is built with environmental sustainability in mind. Features include a solar hot water system, natural light via windows and sun pipes, energy efficient appliances, insulated roof and wall panels to reduce heat gain, and the use of recycled materials in construction.

Saadiyat Island is a natural island alongside Abu Dhabi’s coast, celebrating the renaissance of Arabian living; and a place where iconic landmarks and azure Arabian waters create a thoughtful harmony of culture, leisure and business in a vibrant community.

It covers 27 square kilometres (2,700 hectares), the island will eventually be home to 145,000 people. Saadiyat island hosts premium brands in hospitality, education and leisure, combined with the world’s largest concentration of cultural institutions, all within easy reach. There are plans for luxury hotels, over three million square metres of office space, marinas with berths for 1,000 boats, two championship golf courses, civic and leisure facilities, sea-view apartments and elite villas.  More info

UAE hailed as future of aviation as Global Aerospace Summit 2012 begins

Source:  www.abudhabicityguide.com

Inaugural Global Aerospace Summit oversubscribed as over 1,000 delegates apply to attend this cross industry platform for thought leadership covering the aerospace, aviation and space sectors at the St. Regis Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.

Opening the Summit, Sultan Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy said the Summit provided “an opportunity to demonstrate the country’s progress and ambition in the aerospace, aviation and space sectors.” He underlined the government’s support for a culture of partnerships spanning the public and private sectors, and added: “As the UAE moves from an economy that has a solid base through natural resource revenues to one that will be sustained in the long-term through a diversified, knowledge-based approach, it is vital that we provide a platform for thought leadership.”

Delivering a state of the industry address to the 700 delegates who were able to secure their place at the Summit, Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, IATA, praised the UAE’s aviation sector, saying: “Aviation’s importance as a catalyst for growth is well-understood in the Middle East and particularly in the Gulf region, where airports rise from the desert ahead of the demand curve, not behind it. More info

As Saadiyat Island’s future takes shape, life retains simple pleasures

By John Henzell  www.thenational.ae

Saadiyat is about to boom. Its museums may have been delayed but its luxury residences are rapidly filling up. Yet a tour of the island chain shows that tranquillity – and the sound of the waves – still rule. Words by John Henzell, photos by Christopher Pike

Sun seekers enjoy the Monte Carlo beach club on Saadiyat Island. Christopher Pike / The National

Sun seekers enjoy the Monte Carlo beach club on Saadiyat Island. Christopher Pike / The National

For an island that was terra incognita to almost everyone in Abu Dhabi only three years ago, Saadiyat is about to experience a population surge normally reserved for gold mining boomtowns. It is about to become Abu Dhabi version 2.0: the city’s new public face to the world through the cultural district museums on which the capital is staking its tourism credentials for the decades to come.

Even today, Saadiyat’s beach is a place where you can stand in the warm evening breeze and hear a soundtrack that disappeared from life in the capital nearly a generation ago: the rhythm of waves lapping on a natural beach. Just three years ago, this was a sound enjoyed only by the gazelles and by the occasional hawksbill turtle looking for an undisturbed location to bury its eggs.

A week ago, I joined some long-term Abu Dhabi residents for a kind of housewarming for one of the first occupants of the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort’s adjoining residential apartment blocks and villas. Heading to the beach, it was the waves that stunned everyone. Ever since man-made Lulu Island was completed in 1992, sheltering the newly reclaimed expanse of the Corniche, that simple natural soundtrack has been missing.

Besides the St Regis’s 259 apartments and 33 villas, providing a permanent population to offset the hotel’s transitory residents, 254 beach villas – all already sold – are due to be handed over this month.

The first three apartment blocks in Saadiyat Beach Apartments are due to follow by the end of the summer, with another three due at the start of 2013.

This year was also supposed to see the opening of the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, to be followed by the Louvre and the Guggenheim in 2013: the three institutions that would turn Saadiyat into a cultural centre of world renown. The recession, of course, created a hiccup in the development process – now resolved – with tendering for the Louvre project just restarted.

The main contract works for the museum are expected to be awarded late this year, according to a spokeswoman for the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), with a projected opening in 2015. The Zayed National Museum is expected to open the year after, followed by the Guggenheim in 2016.

But while the cultural district may have been delayed slightly, many of the residential parts of Saadiyat’s development continued and are about to come on stream.

Even a year ago, trying to reach the beach was more than likely to be thwarted by a phalanx of guards and gates, leaving the galleries of the Manarat Al Saadiyat as the island’s sole publicly accessible feature.

Now it’s possible to access the foreshore via the St Regis or Park Hyatt hotels, the Monte Carlo Beach Club or even by retrieving a wildly sliced shot while playing a round at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

None of the new developments quite capture the new nature of Saadiyat like the Monte Carlo Beach Club. From being part of a rough and desolate shoreline that attracted both hawksbill turtles and the Gulf’s inexhaustible supply of plastic flotsam, a local version of the namesake Monaco resort has become a beachside haven that many deem to be the most luxurious destination in Abu Dhabi.

It needs to be, because the yearly membership for one person is a wallet-wilting Dh35,000, and that doesn’t even include access to one of the poolside cabanas, which cost an extra Dh750. A day. More info

Making sense of Saadiyat Island

By Orlando Crowcroft, Business News Editor  www.gulfnews.com

Dubai: It is now March, but only now is Shaun O’Connor, chief financial officer of Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), ready to flick the calendar to 2012.

    *  Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News     * Construction on TDIC projects continues at Sadiyaat Island in Abu Dhabi. The re-launch of the three Saadiyat Island museums has curbed speculation about the future of the island.

* Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News * Construction on TDIC projects continues at Sadiyaat Island in Abu Dhabi. The re-launch of the three Saadiyat Island museums has curbed speculation about the future of the island.

O’Connor, manning the books at TDIC for just nine months, has spent the past few weeks putting the finishing touches to the state-owned developer’s first-ever public annual results. And, he tells Gulf News, TDIC is well placed for the year ahead.

“It’s been a spectacular year, unbelievable for delivery for the company, results exceeded expectations and 2012 is shaping up to be an absolutely spectacular year,” he says.

With total assets of Dh14.5 billion, TDIC will see the delivery of four major residential projects in 2012, standing the developer in good stead for its looming $2 billion (Dh7.35 billion) of bonds due in 2014. “It takes a lot of the pressure off,” O’Connor says.

Meanwhile, the re-launch of the three Saadiyat Island museums — the Louvre, Guggenheim and Zayed National — has curbed speculation about the future of the island.

GULF NEWS: What was the logic between the new schedule for the three museums?

Shaun O’Connor: The original strategy was to bring all three on simultaneously in 2014, but the new schedule allows each one to come into their own.

So the Louvre Abu Dhabi gets a chance to open, experience a year as a single operating museum, lets us pull in the tourist traffic and let it settle down from an operations perspective before we open the Zayed National Museum, then it opens up and has the same time frame. Then we build Guggenheim.

I can now bring the same tourists to the region three times. Under the original plan, a tourist could come once and from a cultural perspective they wouldn’t have had a need to come back for quite a while.

Is it fair to say that financing was an issue too?

The government of Abu Dhabi does not have fin-ancing issues. That’s a nice statement to make, and there are not a lot of places in the world that are able to make that.

It was a strategic decision by the government on when it made sense to bring these to the market place.

What about the other museums that are planned, the performing arts and the maritime museum?

They are still part of our long term plan, they are not in the next five years of development as it stands today. For us it is more important to focus on the three iconic museums and get them open and operating and stabilised. The government may ask us to bring forward one of those, and if they do we have the capacity to deliver.

There have been different figures bandied around about the cost of these museums, could you give us an idea of the final cost?

I know, but I am not disclosing.

We have a very good idea of what those museums will cost, and that was part of what we took forward to the government, it’s just not a number we’re disclosing.

TDIC was always envisaged as a body that was supposed to operate on its own without being financed. Given the government funding for the museums, is this still the intention?

TDIC operates today on its own, the financing we get from the government is to build very specific projects.

If the government wants us to build a bridge, for example, it pays for that asset and we turn it over to the government to own and operate.

Our job is, for lack of a better term, a ‘merchant builder’ on those projects. The cash flow we get from our operating properties, from the sales and leasing of the buildings that we have built that are commercially based, fund the operations of TDIC.

The museums were never intended to be TDIC operated, these were always government-owned, absolutely iconic structures… Our job is to build them.

Making sense of Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Louvre to open in 2015

By Jen Thomas www.thenational.ae

A newly unveiled timetable for the opening of Saadiyat Island’s landmark museums promises the long-delayed cultural projects will be completed by 2017.

The capital’s arm of the Louvre Museum is expected to be the first for completion, with an opening date of 2015. The Zayed National Museum will follow with an opening in 2016, and the Guggenheim is expected to open in 2017.

The revised delivery dates come just three months after the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the island’s master developer, said construction on the museums was stalled.

Though delayed, TDIC officials insisted none of the projects had been scrapped. The Louvre and Guggenheim museums were initially expected to be finished by 2014, and the national museum later that year.

“We are fully confident that we will fulfil our promise of delivering the level of museums expected from TDIC, the Saadiyat Cultural District and Abu Dhabi,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, the general manager of TDIC.

He added that the authority “is ready to plan a new implementation process for the museums”.

The new chronology for the Saadiyat Cultural District centrepieces comes on the heels of an Executive Council announcement earlier this week that budgets and expected opening dates for the museums were finalised.

TDIC and the Executive Council called for a plan with a staggered timetable to allow each museum to gain its own following.

The cultural district is envisioned as the gem of Saadiyat Island, one of TDIC’s flagship development projects, and is advertised as featuring “the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural institutions when complete”.

The island will eventually house an estimated 145,000 residents and all construction is expected to be completed by 2020. More info

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort now open

Source:  www.hoteliermiddleeast.com

Starwood’s first St. Regis-branded property, the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi, opened on December 26.

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi

St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi

The hotel, which was initially scheduled to open in November, is the sponsor hotel for the Volvo Ocean Race, which comes to Abu Dhabi on December 31.

“The St. Regis Saadiyat Island has been chosen as the sponsor hotel in Abu Dhabi for the Volvo Ocean Race, perhaps the most prestigious ocean yacht race in the world. This will no doubt be an amazing event for Abu Dhabi in January and is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the Emirate. For us, it will provide great exposure both globally and locally for the hotel,” general manager John Pelling told Hotelier Middle East in September.

Al Musharrekh brothers put their stamp on Saadiyat golf tournament

Source:  www.thenational.ae

The UAE staved off a stiff challenge from the United Kingdom team to narrowly clinch the UK v UAE Challenge Match at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club - The 16th hole 'Seaview'

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club - The 16th hole 'Seaview'

Led by Khalid Yousuf and the Al Musharrekh brothers, Ahmed and Hassan, the home side won 6.5 to 5.5 in the event, which followed the four-ball, better-ball format. Joel Neale, who recently turned professional, and Alison White recorded the biggest win of the day when they thumped Andrew Coltart and Hayley Davis 5-and-3 to set the tone for the home side on the Gary Player-designed course.

The Al Musharrekh brothers made their presence felt, clinching their respective ties with ease. Ahmed, who plays off a plus-three handicap, combined with Rory Blincow to beat Rod Gilmour and Oliver Carr 3-and-2, while Hassan, paired with James Sayer, accounted for Brogan Townend and Lesley Atkins 3-and-1.

The UAE duo of Lindsay Brown and Franco Botha were too good for the UK pairing of Amy Boulden and Samantha Giles, winning 2-and-1, matching the performance of their teammates, Harley Knight and Dale Marmion, who defeated Jack Singh Brar and Alex Gleeso.

Callum Mills and Eoin Cunliffe further consolidated the UAE position with a slip verdict against James Newton and Ben Anderson.

Bilal Bilaid and Jonny McLeod halved their match with Jimmy Mullen and William Pennington after their match ended all square.

Daniel Hendry, the winner of the recent Sheikh Rashid Trophy, and Sana Tufail suffered a shock defeat against Lauren Taylor and Oliver Walsh, but it did not keep the UAE from victory.