Abu Dhabi is moving closer to having a permanent cruise terminal at Mina Zayed, delegates at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum heard today.
Welcoming delegates to the Forum, which runs at the Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel until Wednesday 11th December, His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, said a decision on the concept design is expected next year.
Updating delegates on Abu Dhabi’s cruise sector progress, Al Muhairi said a site for the permanent facility had now been selected.
“We have made no secret of the fact that we intend to press ahead with the building of a permanent terminal,” he said.
“The current temporary terminal site has now been earmarked as the site of the permanent one.”
Addressing the Forum, at which key decision-makers from some of the world’s top cruise lines are being hosted, Al Muhairi called on the operators to input into the planning process.
“We want a state-of-the-art facility which meets all your requirements, including warehousing and cold storage.”
He added: “It’s essential to have your thoughts early in the planning process.
“We’re ready and eager to listen.”
Al Muhairi said in the meantime, Abu Dhabi would play to its strengths in serving the cruise sector.
“We do have some significant advantages,” he said.
“Mina Zayed’s deep draught with its dedicated cruise quay walls means we can handle three or four cruise ships at one time.
“We have the capability.”
He added that TCA Abu Dhabi has recently upgraded and expanded the temporary terminal to include a range of passenger services.
Outlining Abu Dhabi’s cruise ambitions – which span winning more host port business and securing home port status for some vessels – Al Muhairi said TCA Abu Dhabi, working with authorities in Al Gharbia, plan to develop a cruise day stop-over in the emirate’s western region.
“A team is working on this plan now,” he explained.
“It has identified a stretch of stunning beach on Delma Island and has the backing of the local municipality.
“We will now commission design of a dedicated cruise stopover beach, with amenities, for a totally relaxing stopover.
“We aim to have this ready for inclusion in your 2015/2016 itineraries.”
The TCA Abu Dhabi Director General said Abu Dhabi is differentiating its shore excursion itineraries for cruise passengers via its headline attractions on Yas Island, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, and said the upcoming cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is due to open in 2015, would further set the emirate apart.
“All of these, I’m sure, are featured, or will feature, in your shore excursions,” he said.
Al Muhairi went on to pledge that the destination would work hand-in-hand with cruise operators and their agents to nurture sector growth.
“A joint approach to development will be key to ensuring we have a sustainable growth agenda,” he said.
“We have listened to your need for a streamlined multi-entry visa for cruise passengers.
“We are aware of your concerns and believe this is needed to growth your business, and ours.
“Rest assured, it’s high on our agenda.”