His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, announced that Abu Dhabi is moving closer to having a permanent cruise terminal at Mina Zayed Port.
 
Al Muhari said a site for the permanent facility had now been selected, with a decision on the concept design expected for the first quarter of 2014 and a detailed design expected to be issued by the second quarter of 2014.
 
“We have made no secret of the fact that we intend to press ahead with the building of a permanent terminal,” said Al Muhairi. “The current temporary terminal site has now been earmarked as the site of the permanent one. The first development phase is complete. Abu Dhabi Ports Company has invested heavily – around 12 million dirhams (more than $3.2 million) – in improving the roads and security around the site. There is now a dedicated road for cruise traffic and access to the terminal is smoother and quicker.”
 
“We want a state-of-the-art facility which meets all your requirements, including warehousing and cold storage,” said Al Muhairi. “It’s essential to have your thoughts early in the planning process. We’re ready and eager to listen.”
 
In the meantime, Al Muhairi said Abu Dhabi would play to its strengths in serving the cruise sector.
 
“We do have some significant advantages,” he said. “Mina Zayed’s deep draught with its dedicated cruise quay walls means we can handle three or four cruise ships at one time. We have the capability.”
 
He added that TCA Abu Dhabi has recently upgraded and expanded the temporary terminal to include a range of passenger services.
 
Outlining Abu Dhabi’s cruise ambitions – which span winning more host port business and securing home port status for some vessels – Al Muhairi said TCA Abu Dhabi, working with authorities in Al Gharbia, plan to develop a cruise day stop-over in the emirate’s western region.
 
“A team is working on this plan now,” said Al Muhairi. “It has identified a stretch of stunning beach on Delma Island and has the backing of the local municipality. The site is known as Crystal Beach because of its unique, shimmering, mineral-rich sand. We will now commission design of a dedicated cruise stopover beach, with amenities, for a totally relaxing stopover. We aim to have this ready for inclusion in your 2015/2016 itineraries.”
 
Al Muhairi explained that Abu Dhabi is differentiating its shore excursion itineraries for cruise passengers via its headline attractions on Yas Island, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld, and said the upcoming cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi which is due to open in 2015, would further set the emirate apart.
 
“All of these, I’m sure, are featured, or will feature, in your shore excursions,” he said.
 
Al Muhairi went on to pledge that the destination would work hand-in-hand with cruise operators and their agents to nurture sector growth.
 
“A joint approach to development will be key to ensuring we have a sustainable growth agenda,” said Al Muhairi. “We have listened to your need for a streamlined multi-entry visa for cruise passengers. We are aware of your concerns and believe this is needed to growth your business, and ours. Rest assured, it’s high on our agenda.”