Saadiyat Island

About Saadiyat Island

Saadiyat Island ( meaning “Island of Happiness”) is a large, low lying island 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi island to be developed.

A Dhs.100 billion (US$ 27 billion) mixed commercial, residential, and leisure project is currently under construction on the island, expected to be completed in 2018. According to government officials, Saadiyat Island is expected to become Abu Dhabi’s cultural center.

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.

In May 2009, Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing the developers of Saadiyat Island of violating the rights of workers on the site by charging them fees to obtain their work contracts, paying them less than they were promised, and holding their passports to prevent their resignation or departure. The report also called on western partners (including the Guggenheim, the French Museum Agency, and New York University) to seek contractual assurances that these violations would not continue once construction on facilities for those institutions was underway. The alleged violations of the workers’ rights would also constitute violations of United Arab Emirates law.


  • The Saadiyat Island development has been described as an intention to create an “up-scale cultural district to enrich Abu Dhabi”.
  • Many cultural projects have already been announced including the development of a Guggenheim Museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Frank Gehry-designed building is due for completion in 2014 and will be the largest Guggenheim Museum at 30,000 square metres (320,000 ft²),  with an estimated cost of $400 million.
  • A Louvre museum will also be completed in 2012.
  • Saadiyat Island will eventually house around 150,000 residents and will be connected to Abu Dhabi via two ten-lane causeways.
  • Plans to build a world-class performing arts center and a concert hall designed by Zaha Hadid are underway.
  • New York University is opening a campus on the island, construction of which may commence in 2013.
  • A Gary Player designed 18 hole championship golf course and golf academy along the beach

Proposed districts

Al Marina

  • Total area 4.4 km²
  • Berthing for over 1,000 boats
  • Boutique hotels
  • Luxury apartments
  • Mediatheque
  • Oceanarium
  • Leisure and entertainment
  • Commercial and retail environment

Cultural District

  • Total area 2.7 km²

Masterplan by EDAW

  • Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando.
  • Sheikh Zayed National Museum by Foster + Partners
  • Modern Art Museum (the Guggenheim by Frank Gehry)
  • Classical Museum (the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel)
  • Performing Arts Centre (by Zaha Hadid)
  • Office park
  • Luxury town homes and apartments
  • Boutique hotels
  • Retail and commercial environment
  • New York University Abu Dhabi Campus

Saadiyat Park

  • Total area 6 km²
  • Luxury low-rise residential
  • 0.7 km² recreational area
  • Waterside living
  • Equestrian centre

Saadiyat Beach

  • Total area 4.33 km²
  • International tourist destination
  • 9 Kilometers of natural beaches
  • Five-star hotels and resorts
  • Beach clubs
  • A Gary Player designed Championship golf course with luxury residential

South Beach

  • Total area 2.68 km²
  • Family resort
  • Dynamic beach lifestyle
  • Boardwalks with restaurants and cafés
  • Leisure and entertainment

The Wetlands

  • Total area 5.23 km²
  • Championship golf course with luxury residential
  • Boutique eco hotels
  • Waterside living
  • Eco centre
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