Bani Yas Island set to open
Dubai, May 6, 2008
The first phase of Abu Dhabi’s unique Desert Islands destination, which is set to be a regional showpiece of sustainability, is to open to tourists this winter.
It heralds the entry of the Emirate’s largely untapped western region on the international tourism and development landscapes, said an official spokesman.
From October, tourists will be able to stay on Sir Bani Yas Island – the former private eco-retreat of the UAE’s late president Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
The opening of Sir Bani Yas Island, which is at the core of the multi-experiential Desert Islands destination, will be the first step in unlocking the latent potential of Abu Dhabi’s Western Region, according to CEO, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the Emirate’s leading tourism asset developer and the name behind Desert Islands, Lee Tabler.
Tabler was speaking at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai where he spoke of the opportunities within the western region, noted for its unspoilt beaches, dramatic desert terrain as well as natural assets, including mangrove reserves and significant archaeological deposits.
“The region’s proximity to other GCC markets holds out significant advantages,” he added.
Tabler said the Desert Islands, which comprises eight islands and an onshore gate just off the coast of Jebel Dhanna, a 250 kilometre drive from Abu Dhabi city, will be a flagship destination designed to invigorate and inspire.
In October’s first phase opening, guests will be able to stay in the five-star, 64-room boutique Desert Islands Resort and Spa, or its beach villas and six two-bedroom ‘Royal’ villas, being managed by award-winning Thai hospitality group Anantara Resorts & Spas.
They can choose to dine in any of five outlets including The Palms, all-day dining restaurant, the specialty Samak seafood restaurant, a pool bar, deli and lounge, relax with a book in the comfort of the library or take in a game of night-time tennis in the 24-hour fitness centre.
Alternatively, guests can stay in a tented Arabian beach side camp where they can relax in nature without even leaving their room.
A series of adventure activities including 4x4 guided tours of the Arabian Wildlife Park, which will be home to a variety of animals, hiking trails, mountain-biking and snorkelling in the island’s surrounding waters, which are rich in marine life, including turtles, dolphins and coral reefs.
“Desert Islands has been master planned as a regional benchmark in environmental, conservation and ecological tourism. This destination will help us assert our sustainability credentials. It will be the quintessential vacation escape enabling tourists to access the previously inaccessible,” added Tabler.
Desert Islands is to be a key element of TDIC’s planned promotion at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai this week when advance bookings for the Sir Bani Yas Island experience will commence via www.desertislands.com and www.anantara.com.
Desert Islands is expected to generate $326 million in tourism revenues when fully operational by 2020 and create a total of 6,500 jobs.
The tourism potential of Abu Dhabi’s western region will be given a further boost next year with the planned September 2009 opening of the deluxe Qasr Al Sarab retreat in the Liwa desert in the Empty Quarter (Rub Al Khali). – TradeArabia News Service