Abu Dhabi’s $10 Billion Plan For Tourism

The capital of the United Arab Emirates has unveiled a new grand plan for tourism, with $10 billion worth of investment into the sector, almost 200,000 new jobs, and the promise of new streamlined visa processes.

Abu Dhabi serves as the administrative center of the UAE and holds most of the nation’s oil reserves. Nearby emirate Dubai is much better known for its tourism sector and brought in more than 17 million international visitors last year. 

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Strategy 2030 has the following goals by the end of the decade:

  • Create 178,000 new tourism-related jobs.
  • Double international overnight visitors from 3.8 million in 2023 to 7.2 million.
  • Increase the number of hotel rooms from hotel room 34,000 in 2023 to 52,000.
  • Increase countrywide GDP contribution from $13.3 billion in 2023 to $24.5 billion.

How Will Abu Dhabi Achieve This? 

As is the way in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is throwing money at the situation. DCT – Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak estimates the capital will spend $10 billion between now and 2030 on new tourism infrastructure. 

He told local newspaper The National: “[When it comes to] infrastructure, in terms of museums, theme parks and hospitality, [with] the private sector playing a significant role, we are hovering at over $10 billion of investment from now to 2030.” 

The chairman said another $1 billion is to go to marketing efforts between now and 2030. 

Beyond the massive investment, the department hasn’t laid out timelines for its 2030 plan. Rather, it shared 26 “key initiatives” it needs to focus on. These initiatives aren’t named but are grouped into four pillars:

  • Offerings and City Activation 
  • Promotion and Marketing
  • Infrastructure and Mobility 
  • Visa, Licensing, and Regulations

Offerings and City Activation 

The first pillar surrounds the building of additional cultural sites, theme parks, retails offerings and new hotel chains. 

Promotion and Marketing

DCT – Abu Dhabi will also more than double its promotion and marketing efforts, expanding its international reach from 11 to 26 markets. It will also establish global partnerships with media outlets and well-known brands for collaborations.

Infrastructure and Mobility

The strategy’s infrastructure and mobility pillar will increase hotel room availability, including accessible and luxury options, glamping, and farm stays. This pillar also stipulates boosting airlift and the aviation sector. 

In November 2023, Abu Dhabi’s new Terminal A opened. 

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal A brings a major increase in capacity for the emirate’s commercial aviation sector, more than doubling the current passenger capacity, with the new facilities being able to process up to 45 million travelers annually. 

At triple the size of the previous terminals, Terminal A will handle 79 planes simultaneously and 11,000 passengers per hour.

Visa, Licensing, and Regulations

Lastly, both visitor experience and tourism business operations will be enhanced with new visa, licensing and regulation processes. 

What Does Abu Dhabi Currently Have? 

Abu Dhabi has built itself up as a cultural alternative to Dubai, investing heavily in museums and religious sites. It is home to its own Louvre museum (affiliated with the famed Paris institution); Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque; and is building its own Guggenheim Museum as well. 

The city is also big on sporting events, similar to Saudi Arabia’s recent focus on boxing, football and wrestling. Abu Dhabi has its own Formula 1 track which wraps around a five-star hotel operated by Marriott. It also has a Ferrari-themed amusement park and continuously hosts UFC events on Yas Island.