ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – UAE property analysts have welcomed the news that three museums on Saadiyat Island are back on track, despite the delays to the projects.
They said that the Abu Dhabi Executive Council’s new revised timeline for the museums in the Saadiyat Cultural District is a sign of commitment by the government to promote the emirate as a tourism destination and put itself on the world map.
The Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), the developer of Saadiyat Cultural District, announced on Tuesday new delivery dates for the museums as follows: Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2015, Zayed National Museum in 2016, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017.
The announcement comes after the projects had been stalled for a few months last year.
“It’s a very positive move for the government of Abu Dhabi because over the past 18 months, many projects have been stalled or put on hold,” David Dudley, regional director at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Middle East and North Africa, said.
“It’s very positive for the market that the government is committed to these projects because that’s great in terms of improving Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination,” he said. “Also, major spending will generate jobs that will be good for the property market.”
However, the TDIC has not announced the projects’ revised budget figures.
In the statement, the TDIC said that “substantial work” has already been completed on the museums. “Detailed architectural designs have been finalised, as well as all foundation and piling work,” it said, adding that the delay had been due to the “immense magnitude of the Saadiyat Cultural District.”
Matthew Green, head of research and consultancy in the UAE at consultancy CB Richard Ellis Middle East, told Gulf News that the museums, in addition to the projects going on at Saadiyat, have been the focal point of the emirate’s tourism strategy.
“They are the prime and most identified projects,” he said. “These are global brands and to have them in Abu Dhabi is very important. I definitely think it’s very positive news or else it would have been a bit damaging if they hadn’t gone through.”
The new phasing makes more sense in terms of government funding, Dudley said. It’s also sensible to have phased opening dates as it helps grow the tourism figures of Abu Dhabi in line with other aspects of the industry, he explained.
“It’s good the government is confirming that it is very much behind Vision 2030 and behind Abu Dhabi’s vision to diversify its economy away from oil,” he said. “Even if they have slowed it down, it remains very committed to that vision.”
Shaikh Sultan Bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC, said the “Saadiyat Cultural District will create a cultural destination that will repeatedly attract visitors from the world of arts and culture”.
According to Green, the fact that Abu Dhabi is pushing ahead with the projects and establishing itself as a tourism destination will also affect tourism within the country, where people will no longer just stay in Dubai and drive down to Abu Dhabi for a visit.
However, the museums are the kind of projects that will bring tourists into Abu Dhabi directly, he explained.
Job creation likely
“While the rest of the market is being expanded with new hotels and golf courses, they’re starting to build a proper tourism model which will be appealing to people,” Green said. These developments in Abu Dhabi are also expected to boost the economy and create more jobs.