By Staff writer
Q&A with Mohammed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral Asset Management
Q&A with Mohammed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral Asset Management
What sort of visitor numbers did Yas Island see last year, and what are you targeting for 2016?
In 2015, Yas Island welcomed more than 25 million visitors from the UAE and around the world to experience its various offerings across its destinations.
In less than a decade, the evolution of Yas Island has resulted in it being strongly placed on the global destination map for visitors from all over the world. Today, Yas Island provides a wide array of experiences to audiences from across all age groups, whether they want to enjoy theme parks, retail, dining, sports or businesses.
In line with our vision at Miral for Yas Island, we continue to invest and evolve the island through partnerships with leading local and international organisations like Etihad Airways and TCA Abu Dhabi, to create outstanding and competitive business, leisure and entertainment products and visitor experiences.
How would you assess the performance of Yas Mall since its opening?
It has been excellent. Under Aldar’s management, Yas Mall has become Abu Dhabi’s ultimate destination for shopping, dining and entertainment, located at the heart of Yas Island. It welcomed 18 million visitors in 2015. It is an amazing attraction for visitors to Abu Dhabi - with 370 stores, more than 60 cafes and restaurants and a 20-screen cinema.
Are there any plans to increase the size of the mall, or add new brands?
You would have to ask Aldar about specific plans for expansion. What I can say is that the 20 million visitors who visited Yas Mall since its opening in November 2014 is indicative of the intense visitor interest. It is a one-of-a-kind shopping, dining, and entertainment experience in the Capital.
What new attractions are in the pipeline for the island?
The rise of Yas Island has been nothing short of remarkable. Since the project to develop the island in Abu Dhabi was initiated in 2006, our leadership’s dream has turned into a reality. Yas Island will continue to evolve as a world-class destination to live, work and play in 2016 and beyond. We have always, and will continue to, work in partnership with business and government entities to introduce outstanding and competitive tourism products and visitor experiences.
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi’s recent expansion has resulted in the transformation of the theme park, with visitors flocking to Yas Island from all corners of the world. The three year expansion, which started in 2014, includes the opening of seven new rides and attractions and is expected to increase the Park’s overall capacity by 40%.
March 2016 saw the opening of Flying Aces, which was preceded by the opening of Benno’s Great Race in March 2015 and Ferrari Driving Experience in May 2015 . The Ferrari Driving experience is the first of its kind in a theme park setting, giving guests the opportunity to drive a California Ferrari around Yas Island for approximately 25 minutes.
Another one our new attractions at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is the the Karting Academy, which was launched during the F1 season 2015. The attraction offers 12 electric powered go-karts with a maximum speed of 80 km/h that run along a 290 meter indoor track. The Junior Training Camp has also been enhanced to include more adventurous activities for children above the age of three.
Every one of our assets have plans for new attractions, building on the successes of the island. Creating riveting experiences is at the heart of what we do and we continue to innovate and inspire our creators to design memorable experiences.
How are you developing the events side of the Yas offering?
Yas Island has a year-round calendar of events, which incorporate different events which cater to all age groups that visit the Island. Events are a key part of the Yas Island experience.
With Yas Marina Circuit, Du Forum and Du Arena, we have the infrastructure to be able to host a wide variety of events of all different types and we actively encourage our assets and event partners to find new and interesting experiences for visitors.
For 2016, more than 30 large scale events including sporting events, festivals and concerts are planned, with more expected to be announced throughout the year. The Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has always been a flagship in the calendar and it sells-out, with 60,000 spectators travelling from across the world to enjoy the races and concert programme.
What are you doing to increase MICE visitors?
MICE visitors are considered to be one of our main target audience and we continue to invest to attract this segment within the market.
With seven different hotels currently located on Yas Island and over 24 venues to select from, the Island is gaining popularity in hosting team-building events, meetings and conferences, among the regional and international business community.
Our hotels and other assets have built strong offerings around the management and delivery of business events and conferences and look to find solutions to support the challenges business events face.
They have focused on delivering international standard service and management, advanced technologies, excellent risk management protocols, the right resources and experienced event managers and staff – and, of course, cost-effective solutions for business event organisers.
Are there plans to develop any further hospitality assets on Yas?
Yas Island currently has seven different hospitality assets to select from with over 24 venues to host MICE events (Centro Yas Island, Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Park Inn by Radisson, Radisson Blu Hotel, Staybridge Suites, Yas Island Rotana, and Yas Viceroy).
As mentioned earlier, we continue to explore opportunities to partner with local and global partners to add to the existing destinations on Yas Island.
What’s Miral’s five-year plan?
As Abu Dhabi’s creator of destinations, Miral’s vision focuses on positioning Yas Island on the map of destinations. Attracting tourists from across the globe, Yas Island’s offerings help reinforce Abu Dhabi’s position as a world-class tourism destination, offering memorable experiences which cannot be found anywhere else in the region.
We will continue to explore new opportunities with local and regional partners to further enhance and add to the customer journey on Yas Island. Conveniently located 7 minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport and 45 minutes from Dubai, we look to give our customers the feeling of a wall-less resort, giving them the ease of movement from one experience to another without the need to leave the island.
Over a short period of time, Abu Dhabi has evolved and is well on its way to become a world-class tourist destination. With recent investments in arts and culture, sports, education, health and of course leisure, no visitor would ever be at a loss for things to do and see here.For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.