Cruise Industry: What does Sir Bani Yas mean for Abu Dhabi cruises?

Abu Dhabi Ports has officially opened Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, offering cruise ship passengers a new beach destination with unmatched tourism experiences in what is the first of its kind cruise destination in the Middle East.

The Beach was officially inaugurated by His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC).

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His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region, was also there for the launch and said the new Cruise Beach represented Abu Dhabi’s ongoing commitment to enhance its appeal as a cruise destination globally.

“The development of new economic and tourism projects across the Western Region is a key priority for Abu Dhabi’s government,” he said, adding that the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach will further stimulate the tourism sector in the island.

“Sir Bani Yas Island is one of the UAE’s largest natural reserves open to the public. The Government of Abu Dhabi’s continued investment in its development will help to turn it into one of best tourist destinations in the world. The cruise terminal is another boost for Sir Bani Yas Island as a leading tourism destination,” he said.

Commenting on the occasion, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman, TCA Abu Dhabi and TDIC said: “This unique cruise beach is unrivalled in the region and has been developed to meet the demand for a beach call addition to the itineraries of the world’s leading cruise lines.”

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“Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach gives Abu Dhabi a competitive advantage by enabling double-emirate calls and demonstrates the effectiveness of the emirate’s coordinated stakeholder approach to the development of Abu Dhabi’s cruise sector,” he added. “Anchoring at this multiple award-winning nature-conservation desert island adds a unique proposition to an already diverse array of passenger shore excursions.”

Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach brings Abu Dhabi a unique opportunity to attract regional cruise itineraries and enhances cruise operators’ offering. It has already played a vital role in increasing cruise passenger traffic, which is estimated to grow by 9 percent in the 2016-17 season.

“Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach was developed with the needs of cruise liners and passengers in mind; beginning with tailor made operational solutions, and ending with incorporating unique beach and wildlife activities,” added Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports. “We are confident that this project will position Abu Dhabi competitively on the international cruise destinations map.”

Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach is the Gulf region’s only dedicated desert island cruise stopover and was developed in keeping with the local culture and growing demand for world-class cruise infrastructure and experiences.

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It extends over a 1.3 km stretch of land, with the capacity to double in size and scale to meet future demands of the market, boasting an extensive range of facilities and excursions that utilise the island’s beautiful wildlife and natural reserve, including eco-tourism wildlife tours and three luxury hotels on the Island itself.

Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company of the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), is the exclusive shore excursions and activities provider for Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach during the 2016/2017 season.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Sir Bani Yas will be a hugely popular new destination for cruise passengers arriving in the Arabian Gulf this cruise season. Together with our partners at the TCA Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Ports and TDIC, we have invested in a unique product and experience to support leading cruise liners bringing their ships to the region.”

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The official launch of Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach coincided with the arrival of the 18-deck vessel, MSC Fantasia, which made Abu Dhabi Cruise terminal its winter-sun home and set sail to Sir Bani Yas with almost 4000 passengers who disembarked on the beach for a day in the sun.

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said: “We have now become the first global cruise line to call at the Sir Bani Yas Cruise Beach, with our own MSC Fantasia. This is a key milestone for us as we continue to develop our offering in the Middle East, bringing our guests to new exciting ports of call, exotic destinations and luxury shore excursions during the winter season.”

The Beach is expected to attract more than 60,000 passengers from 39 stopover cruise line calls in its first season alone.

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