New Abu Dhabi Cruise TerminalAbu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) unveiled today the design of what will become the next big landmark for cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf region – Zayed Port’s new cruise terminal building.

Traditional Arabic ornaments, colors and shapes combined with modern architectural elements define the new building’s distinctive style which celebrates the UAE’s cultural heritage and pays tribute to its long maritime history.

A particular eye-catcher is the building’s roof design which is a lattice-work, taking the UAE’s national tree – the Ghaf – as inspiration. Wooden beams inside the building take inspiration from the UAE’s traditional dhow sailing vessels.

Covering 8,000 square meters, the new building will include all key passenger facilities, as well as a mezzanine level with souvenir shops, restaurants, office facilities and waiting areas for cruise staff. It will feature tourist information services and passport border control counters to ensure that the customs process is smooth and timely.

Ground clearance work for the new terminal, which will be capable of handling three cruise vessels simultaneously, has already begun with a completion timetable anticipated at 2016.

Earlier this year, the UAE announced a new multiple entry visa which will make tourist travel between the UAE and neighboring countries significantly easier. The new multi-entry visa had been on cruise lines ‘wish-list’ for some time as it will help the logistics when planning itineraries around the Gulf region.

“ADPC and its partners – TCA Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman – established ‘Cruise Arabia’ at the end of 2013 as an initiative which promotes the Gulf region as an attractive tourist destination and brings the partners together to combine forces to make the cruising experience for tourists and cruise staff as comfortable as possible,” said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO ADPC.

“Our investment in a larger, higher-quality cruise terminal building recognizes the fact that Abu Dhabi is now featured on a growing number of itineraries. This makes us very proud and keen to ensure that this important industry is fully catered for and encouraged.”

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi added, “Abu Dhabi’s cruise tourism has enormous potential and the development of tourism in the emirate is one of the core pillars of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on oil and gas revenue.”  

“It is a statement of just how serious Abu Dhabi is about cruise tourism,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi. “For our part we are stepping up promotion of this particular industry sector with the imminent launch of a dedicated cruise tourism section on our online destination resource and the creation of highly differentiated shore excursions which lift the value of the Arabian Gulf cruise proposition with Abu Dhabi as both a home port and port-of-call.”

In addition to state-of-the-art cruise facilities and comprehensive infrastructure, ADPC recently introduced a loyalty program for cruise vessels calling at Zayed Port. The program includes special home porting conditions and further incentives, making the stay for cruise liners at Zayed Port even more attractive.

Alongside Saadiyat Island, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and other headline attractions on Yas Island, as well as a wide range of desert tours, Abu Dhabi’s shore excursions for cruise passengers offer unique cultural sites such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the emirate’s heritage heartland of Al Ain and, in the near future, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in the Saadiyat Cultural District.

Abu Dhabi’s cruise passenger arrivals have increased five-fold since the sector began in the emirate in 2007 with anticipated arrivals this season reaching 200,000 passengers from 95 vessel calls.