A new cruise terminal opened at Mina Zayed on Sunday as part of the goal of the emirate to boost tourist arrival numbers.
Abu Dhabi Ports opens the state-of-the-art facility near Corniche under the patronage of Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, National Security Adviser and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Described as a “landmark” for cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf, the structure will serve an increasing number of cruise liners and passengers.
The construction of the terminal underlines the emirate’s ambitions in the tourism sector to elevate its standing as a leading winter sun cruise destination, state news agency Wam said.
“We have achieved a major milestone by completing this ambitious cruise terminal project within one year,” said Capt Mohammed Juma Al Shamisi, Abu Dhabi Ports chief executive.
“At all stages of the project, the guidance and support of the wise leadership gave us the strength and inspiration to accomplish this astounding task.”
The terminal building offers such facilities as tourist information and passport border control counters to ensure a smooth and timely customs process.
The building’s design celebrates the UAE’s cultural heritage and pays tribute to its long maritime history. A fusion of traditional Arabic ornaments and modern architectural elements define the building’s style. The roof design is a lattice work using the UAE’s national tree, the Ghaf, as inspiration. Wooden beams inside the building were inspired by the design of the UAE’s traditional dhow sailing vessels. The terminal’s design was chosen from suggestions submitted by all major global cruise line companies, Wam reported.
In the 2015-2016 season, Mina Zayed received 111 vessel calls and 205,000 passengers from around the world. The figures are a 5-fold increase in passenger numbers and ships visiting the capital since the first cruise season in 2006-2007. Abu Dhabi Ports predicted those figures would rise to more than 300,000 passengers on 130 ships by the 2019-2020 season, with the new terminal playing a crucial part in that growth.
The Gulf’s first cruise beach stopover at Sir Bani Yas Island, which is now operational, will help aid the growth. It is a conservation island where endangered animals roam and is a popular tourist destination.
Recently, Mina Zayed hosted three luxury cruise liners on the same day. Island Sky, owned by Noble Caledonia, docked while on a 16-day voyage from Muscat to Mumbai, while Europa 2, owned by Hapag-Lloyd, was on a 20-day cruise from Dubai to Mauritius. Seven Seas Voyager, owned by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, berthed as part of its global itinerary.
Abu Dhabi Ports’ partners, including Etihad Airways, Tourism and Culture Authority-Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Customs and Abu Dhabi Airports Company, have all played a part in preparations for the terminal’s launch.