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Tourism opportunities in Abu Dhabi – maximising your investment

13th August 2015

As Abu Dhabi focuses on its Economic Vision 2030 of diversifying away from oil to create a diverse and sustainable economy, one key sector of focus is tourism and hospitality.  This is a massive sector covering anything from hotels and water sports activities through to theme parks, retail, and food & beverage - all of the things that attract residents to stay and enjoy their home city, as well as to promote Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination for visitors.

What does Abu Dhabi have to offer as a location?

  • It's the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
  • Strategically located where East meets West - linking Europe and Africa with Asia
  • Diverse landscapes - 700km of coastline and 200 islands, desert, oasis and mountains
  • Year-round sunshine
  • Ranked 25th in the Safe Cities Index 2015 and 2nd for where citizens feel the safest
  • AA credit rating from Fitch and S&P, AA2 from Moody's
  • 2014 GDP AED952,676
  • 49m visitors in 2014, 1.98m visitors in the first six months of 2015 (up 17%)
  • Hotel occupancy rate of 75% in 2014 (up 6% on 2013)
  • Abu Dhabi Travel
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport is home to over 40 airlines and serves over 93 destinations worldwide
  • 2 million passengers passed through the airport in July 2015
  • The new Midfield Terminal at the airport is scheduled to open in July 2017 with a capacity for 30 million passengers per year
  • The 2014/2015 cruise season welcomed 190,000 passengers to Abu Dhabi's cruise terminal via 94 ships (up 23% on the previous season)

Tourism Opportunities in Abu Dhabi   Tourism Opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi's current attractions

  • Events - F1 Grand Prix, Red Bull Air Race, Mubadala World Tennis Championship, HSBC Golf Championship, VOLVO Ocean Race, Ultimate Fight Championship, and top entertainers including Robbie Williams and Bon Jovi (2015)
  • Cultural sites - Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Qasr Al Hosn, Emirates Palace, Manart Al Saadiyat, Louvre Abu Dhabi (coming soon), Zayed National Museum (coming soon) and Guggenheim Museum (coming soon)
  • Lesiure attractions - Yas Waterworld, Ferrari World
  • Eco attractions - Sir Bani Yas Island, Mangroves kayaking, Eco-donut cruises, Hawksbill Turtle protection on Saadiyat Island
  • Business Conferences - ADIPEC, International Defence Exhibition (IDEX), World Future Energy Summit (WFES)
  • Master Developments
  • Saadiyat Island - region's largest planned marina; hotels; golf course; beach club; museums (coming soon); beach and, retail
  • Yas Island - theme parks; golf course; beach; marina; F1 race track; retail; and hotels
  • Al Ain - mountain; oasis; camel market; museums; golf course; forts; water sports park and wildlife park
  • Al Gharbia - desert safaris; hotels; camping; off roading; dune bashing and heritage activities
  • Sir Bani Yas Island - wildlife reserve; sailing; kayaking; sailing; snorkelling; diving; fishing; hotel; and mountain biking

Tourism Opportunities in Abu Dhabi   Tourism Opportunities in Abu Dhabi

Assistance for Tourism and Hospitality Investors

The Tourism Investment Promotion Section (TIPS) of Abu Dhabi's Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) was set up to specifically work with tourism-related businesses intending to invest in Abu Dhabi.  Their goals are to increase visitors, hotel occupancy, and length of stay; whilst attracting, assisting and retaining tourism investors.

Reviewing proposals

With their experience and knowledge of Abu Dhabi's tourism offerings and planned developments, TIPS are well positioned to evaluate investors' plans and advise them according to maximise their investment, whilst ensuring that Abu Dhabi provides its visitors with the best possible experience, attractions and activities.

Introduction services

They connect investors with key stakeholders, government departments and business partners to help get the projects off the ground.


They will place marketing content on their relevant websites, such as www.visitabudhabi.ae and www.abudhabievents.ae  The Visit Abu Dhabi website is translated into nine languages.

In certain instances, investors would be introduced to groups of relevant partners to present their ideas, which could also be supported with direct mail follow up or one-to-one meetings, if appropriate.

They also try to present opportunities with a strong focus on maximising visibility and footfall so that the investors thrive and residents/visitors have the best possible Abu Dhabi experience.


A small seed find is available for approximately two to three investments per annum.  Such funding would be considered for SME’s meeting the following criteria (amongst others):

  • Strong, innovative and unique concepts, benefitting residents and visitors
  • Concepts incorporating authentic themes capturing the spirit of Abu Dhabi.
  • Concepts that activate lesser-known and/or a large portion of Abu Dhabi’s districts and assets within.
  • Revenue as a proof-of-concept
  • A solid business plan.
  • Concepts in line with the morals and traditions of the UAE

Casestudy - Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey

The Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey involves a passenger Dhow (traditional seafaring boat of the gulf) taking guests on a beautiful cruise among the mangroves whilst educating them on the history and tradition of Emirati pearling. Food and beverages are provided and traditional songs and stories are conveyed by the boat’s captain. All guests have the opportunity to open oysters in order to look for pearls and any pearls found may be taken home as a memento of the trip. This SME investor was already operational with an appealing concept for residents and visitors, and generating revenues, before approaching TIPS for assistance.  TIPS helped this investor to purchase additional boats, facilitate a docking space in a 5 star hotel, as well as a prime location within the hotel for sales, bookings and customer service. This resulted in more business for the investor and more visitors to the 5 star hotel, as well as increasing footfall to the area which ultimately increased ancillary business for the area including restaurants and retail.


What to do next?

For more information about TIPS and how they could help your tourism or hospitality business in Abu Dhabi, simply complete the application form and TIPS aims to respond within one week, CLICK HERE.

Special thanks for images provided by Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Abu Dhabi Pearl Journey.


Related Blogs that you may be interested in:

How to find a local sponsor    CLICK HERE

How to start a business in Abu Dhabi    CLICK HERE


For sponsorship, company formation and assistance with your Abu Dhabi company's ongoing compliance requirements, contact Gateway Group of Companies.  Email us at: info@GatewayToAbuDhabi.com

Jenny Hunt Business setup specialist Abu Dhabi

Jenny Hunt, CEO Gateway Group of Companies

email Jenny@GatewayToAbuDhabi.com

Twitter @JennyatGateway

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