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Unique plans for US$27bn Saadiyat

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has unveiled a massive US$27.2 billion residential and tourism development project on Saadiyat Island, a 27-square km island 500 metres offshore, to be executed by The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has unveiled a massive US$27.2 billion residential and tourism development project on Saadiyat Island, a 27-square km island 500 metres offshore, to be executed by The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).

“Saadiyat Island will be the first of many projects falling under TDIC’s remit,” explained His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Executive Council Chairman.

Revealing the details for the first time last week, he added: “This is an important chapter in Abu Dhabi’s history. The creation of TDIC ushers in a new era of economic transition for the emirate, while the development of Saadiyat, a unique natural resource, represents one of the most vibrant episodes in the capital’s evolution.”

TDIC will supervise the project and operate along strictly commercial lines, selling land to private investors who will then develop their plots in accordance with the masterplan, supporting planning regulations and design guidelines to create a new residential and tourism environment.

TDIC will be responsible for building the island’s US$1.5 billion infrastructure, in addition to other utilities. Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority will install sewerage, water and electricity systems, and Etisalat will provide the area with a telecom network.

“The Saadiyat development will heighten awareness of Abu Dhabi’s plans for economic diversification and will reinforce the perception of the capital city as a regional, and international, business and tourism hub. Saadiyat is a symbol of Abu Dhabi’s renewed economic openness, and a signal to the world that this emirate is very much open for partnerships and business on an international scale,” said H.H. Sheikh Mohammed.

The Saadiyat Island project is a three-phase development that starts this year and is due for completion in 2018. Half the size of the tropical island of Bermuda, Saadiyat Island will become the Middle East’s largest single natural island development.

The first phase will include Saadiyat Beach, Cultural District, and Al Marina, and is set for completion in 2010. The second phase, running from 2009-2014, will witness the completion of the most public elements of the master plan, particularly along the island’s west coast. The final stage will run from 2013 to 2018, and will focus on all remaining developments.

“Saadiyat’s transformation is a key proposition in the Abu Dhabi government’s strategy of increasing tourism to the emirate from its current level of almost one million to three million by 2015 – a projected growth rate of 11.3% a year,” said His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the Chairman of both ADTA and TDIC.

The island will be divided into six districts: Cultural District, Al Marina, Saadiyat Beach, South Beach, Saadiyat Park and The Wetlands. The districts will include a total of 29 hotels, amongst which is an iconic 7-star property, 19 kilometres of white sandy beaches, three marinas with combined berths for around 1,000 boats, a concert hall, museums and cultural centres, two golf courses, civic and leisure facilities, over 38,000 apartments and 8,000 private villas. The island is expected to accommodate about 150,000 people – the same population as Oxford in the UK or Chang Mai in Thailand.

“There will be a variety of freehold homes provided by developers with the diversity ranging from elegant city view apartments, spacious Gulf-view villas, and secluded retreats overlooking nature reserves,” said H.H. Sheikh Sultan. “Saadiyat Island will be an idyllic postcard destination for Abu Dhabi, much as Sentosa is to Singapore or Capri to Italy.”

Two iconic causeways will link the island to the city of Abu Dhabi, each a 10-lane freeway. A five-minute drive using the main bridge will separate the city from the island. One of the causeways will have provision for light rail transport, and the site is 25km away from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

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