GAME-CHANGING PROJECTS

Abu Dhabi 2019 | URBAN PLANNING, REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohammed Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral, on developing Yas Island into the next top destination, the largest indoor theme park in the world, and SkyTran.

Mohammed Al Zaabi
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammed Al Zaabi joined Miral in February 2015 as its CEO. With over a decade of experience in project management and leadership roles, his determination and perseverance will facilitate the delivery of the vision to turn Yas Island into the next top destination by 2021. Prior to joining Miral, Al Zaabi was Director of Strategic Investments at Aldar Properties overlooking the company’s portfolio strategy plan for a group of 35 subsidiaries and joint ventures. He has a distinguished academic background, having graduated with an Executive MBA from INSEAD in 2013 and a master of science in strategic project planning from Heriot-Watt University in 2008.

What will are some major developments for Miral in 2018?

In addition to hosting the 10th Formula One race in Abu Dhabi, the biggest achievement of 2018 was the addition of two new attractions to Yas Island. One of them is Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, which opened in July 2018 and is the largest indoor theme park in the world, with six different immersive worlds, each with its own characters and theme; it is a game-changer for theme parks and entertainment within the region. There are 29 new rides, attractions, and shows catering to a range of ages, with well-known characters from Warner Bros. all under one roof. To further expand on our guests' experience, we also built a website that allows visitors to personalize their experience before they arrive at the park. The second project is CLYMB, which has the world's largest indoor skydiving facility with the highest indoor climbing wall at a height of 43m. The attraction is the tallest point on Yas Island at 60m in height, connected to Yas Mall and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, making visits even more convenient. These 2018 projects are a reflection of the vision that Abu Dhabi's leaders had in 2006, and the new heights we have reached since then. In September 2016, we launched a new vision for Yas Island and targeted 48 million visits by 2022. Two future milestones that will help us achieve that goal are Yas Bay, which is a major project in development at the Southern part of Yas Island, and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, planned to open in 2019 and 2022 respectively.

Can you elaborate on how residential and business tourism fits into Yas Island?

To date, only 40% of Yas Island is currently developed and the island spans 25 million sqm in total, which is about a third of the size of Abu Dhabi Island. We aim to welcome 10,000 residents who call Yas Island home and 100,000 corporate travellers. With seven existing hotels and venues and more coming in the future, Yas Island currently provides a wide array of venues and options to the business tourism segement. The Yas Bay development is composed of three distinct areas; a vibrant public waterfront and entertainment district; the Media Zone, featuring the new campus of twofour54; and the Residences at Yas Bay, an urban island community that offers the complete Yas Island lifestyle. Yas Bay will provide a new 18,000-capacity arena for indoor sporting events, concerts, weddings, and meetings, with a customizable space for different scale functions. Yas Bay will also feature two hotels, including a Hilton family resort and a lifestyle hotel, adding 900 rooms to the leisure and business traveler market. Furthermore, the Residences at Yas Bay features 35 plots available for investors and developers to transform them into a vibrant residential neighborhood for urban professionals and families.

How does Yas Island distinguish itself from other tourist destinations?

Yas Island is a unique leisure and entertainment destination in the region, with varied and exciting theme parks like Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, as well as Yas Mall, Yas Beach, Yas Links , Yas Marina and many more—all within 3-5 minutes of travel time from one another. We continue to work with our partners to ready our unique transportation solution called SkyTran, which will be rolled out by the end of 2019. The integrated transportation system will link all of our assets for the first time ever, allowing guests with cars to travel from one place to another in a matter of minutes. We continue to develop Yas Island into one of the world's top family entertainment and leisure destinations and put it on the global travel and tourism map as a key player in a highly comepetitive market. To remain inspiring, we work hard to stay ahead of the game.