By Andy Sambidge
Second phase of construction work starts on project to support rapid growth in emirate's cruise tourism
The second phase of construction work on a new permanent cruise tourism terminal building in Abu Dhabi has just begun, it was announced on Monday.
The construction has been split into three phases which are being carried out in parallel. At the beginning of January, work started to build the mezzanine floor and to strengthen the building’s outer steel frame which is due to be completed by the end of April.
The second phase, which has just begun, involves the new building’s cladding and the start of work on the cruise terminal’s façade and this will be completed later this month, a statement said.
The third phase - due to start in two weeks’ time - focuses on the interior of the building which will feature a filigree lattice-work roof in the shape of the UAE’s national symbol - the Ghaf tree.
The new building will be officially launched and operational at the end of this year, in time for the next cruise season.
Abu Dhabi Ports said it is also in the process of developing another infrastructure project to support the growing cruise industry.
The new beach stopover for cruise tourists on Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, will be the first of its kind in the region.
“Abu Dhabi’s cruise business has been growing continuously ever since the first cruise vessels called at Zayed Port. With the new cruise terminal building and the new island stopover on Sir Bani Yas Island, we will significantly enhance the visitor experience and boost Abu Dhabi’s status as a world-class cruise line destination,” said Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports.
While the cruise season 2013/2014 saw around 125,000 passengers and 75 vessels visiting Abu Dhabi, the current season has been the busiest ever, with around 185,000 expected passengers with an increase of 44 percent and 94 confirmed vessels calls.
This season, 15 cruise ships from ten cruise liners will have called at Zayed Port, most of them on a weekly basis.
The growing attraction of the Middle East to cruise tourists is especially visible in Europe and the United Kingdom. A recent survey revealed that 57 percent of the cruise tourists visiting Abu Dhabi were Germans, followed by Italians, with a total of 108 nationalities welcomed at Zayed Port.
“The response from cruise line operators to our enhanced service offerings is phenomenal and we look forward to taking Abu Dhabi’s cruise business to the next level. We have received some fantastic feedback from cruise passengers and are very confident about Abu Dhabi’s future as the next big cruise hub in the region,” said Al Shamisi.