The UAE capital is clearly focusing on its vision to position the emirate as a centre for creativity and innovation and enrich its cultural landscape – and the most recent project launches reaffirm this goal.
Pivotal in this ambition is the Saadiyat Cultural District, which will be one of the world’s pre-eminent cultural destinations. It currently hosts the renowned Louvre Abu Dhabi, while other world-class museums such as Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are under construction. The district will also be home to the Abrahamic Family House, which will comprise three religious spaces in one complex – a mosque, a synagogue and a church.
The latest launches announced for this cultural hub include teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi – an immersive, multi-sensory venue – and the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi. For those who dream of a home near these museum destinations, the emirate unveiled the Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences early this year which was followed more recently by the Grove District which boasts views of Zayed National Museum, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
This apart, Abu Dhabi has major industrial ambitions; at the end of June, the emirate launched the Abu Dhabi Industrial Strategy to position itself as the region’s most competitive industrial hub. In line with this strategy, the government will invest AED10 billion ($2.72 billion) to more than double the size of Abu Dhabi’s manufacturing sector to AED172 billion by 2031 by increasing access to financing, enhancing ease of doing business, and attracting foreign direct investment.
This is in line with Operation 300bn launched last year, under which the country seeks to boost the industrial sector’s contribution to its gross domestic product to AED300 billion in 2031, up from AED133 billion in 2021.
The emirate, meanwhile, continues to maintain its position as a pioneer in the region, having been the first to launch a city focusing on clean energy, sustainability and a hub for research and development to realise greener, more sustainable urban development – namely Masdar City; the UAE section of the GCC railway with Etihad Rail; and the first Arab nation to build a nuclear plant.
Transport & Logistics
Work on the UAE National Rail Network is progressing at an accelerated pace, with more than 75 per cent of the construction completed on Stage Two of the project since the launch of this stage 30 months ago.
The ambitious AED50-billion Etihad Rail project aims at establishing an integrated system for transporting goods and passengers across the UAE. Currently a freight service, the rail network will introduce passenger services to connect 11 cities within the UAE, allowing travel on trains travelling at speed of 200 km/h from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes (see Page 21).
Meanwhile, AD Ports Group, the region’s premier facilitator of logistics, industry, and trade, is establishing one of the region’s largest multi-category wholesale food trading and logistics hubs in Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad).
Covering a land area of 3.3 sq km in Kizad, the Regional Food Hub – Abu Dhabi will be one of the largest of its kind in the GCC. It will feature trading pavilions, logistics services, refrigerated and ambient warehouses, critical government services, waste recycling facilities and various other support amenities and services.
Power & Water
Unit Three of Barakah nuclear plant, a multi-unit nuclear energy plant located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, is currently being prepared for operation following the completion of its construction late last year. The unit is on track to start up and deliver clean electricity in 2023, joining the first two units which are already operational and provide clean energy to the national grid for homes and businesses across the country.
Meanwhile, a number of utility projects are being developed in partnership with the private sector. These include the Dh3.2-billion Al Taweelah independent water plant, the first phase of which has newly launched operations. Developed by Emirates Water and Electricity Company (Ewec) and Saudi Arabia’s Acwa Power, the reverse osmosis plant is now producing 454,600 cu m of desalinated water a day, which is 50 per cent of its total capacity.
Other major projects in this sector are the Shuweihat S4 and the Mirfa 2 water desalination plants. Late last year, Ewec had issued requests for qualifications (RFQs) for the development of the independent water project at Shuweihat, some 250 km west of capital Abu Dhabi. The Shuweihat S4 Project will desalinate seawater using RO desalination technology to produce up to 70 million gallons per day (MGD) of potable water, sufficient to meet the water demand for 125,000 households.
Ewec has also issued RFQs for the 80 MGD Mirfa 2 IWP.
According to the Department of Municipalities and Transport’s (DMT) latest report, Abu Dhabi’s real estate market has continued to grow, driven by investor optimism, registering 7,474 property transactions amounting to more than AED22.51 billion in the first half of this year.
The top five areas in terms of the numbers and values of real estate transactions during the first six months of 2022, were Yas Island with transactions worth AED1.8 billion followed by Saadiyat Island with transactions worth AED 1.2 billion. With AED1 billion, Al Shamkha came in third, Al Reem Island came in fourth with AED872 million, and the Khalifa City came fifth with AED 310 million.
The real estate sector in Abu Dhabi, as with Dubai, has been on the upswing thanks to government initiatives, economic growth and improved market sentiment. According to full-service real estate services company Asteco, the real estate market remained strong during the second quarter despite global headwinds and rising inflation concerns. In fact, geopolitical tensions experienced globally raised the position of the Emirates as a safe destination to visit, live, work, invest in, and study, it stated.
Around 1,300 residential apartments were delivered in Abu Dhabi in Q2, spread across different areas with the focus being on Al Raha Beach and Al Reem Island. Whilst there was a significant rise in new project launches during the first half of 2022, several others have already progressed to the planning stage and are expected to start construction within the next six to 12 months. A total of 3,400 apartments are expected to be completed by the end of this year in the emirate, the report said.
In response to the surge in demand for property, a large majority of Abu Dhabi developers are now embarking upon new residential and mixed-use projects. This apart, numerous residential and mixed-use projects located within the investment zones are expected to start construction this year, the report said.
According to Asteco, sales prices for high quality villas as well as apartments on Saadiyat Island and Yas Island have increased by up to 15 per cent compared to the same period last year.
The development of property on Saadiyat and Yas islands continues apace, while a new area of focus is the AED10-billion Jubail Island, located between these two islands. The project is owned by Abu Dhabi-based Jubail Island Investment Company (JIIC), which last month unveiled plans for Ain Al Maha village, the latest waterfront residential neighbourhood featuring 240 villas (see Page 14).
Among the latest projects to be launched at Yas island is The Sustainable City – Yas Island, to be jointly developed by Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties and Dubai-based Diamond Developers. The fully sustainable and unique community will span an area of 397,000 sq m in Yas North and is being developed at a total cost of AED1.8 billion. Work is scheduled to begin in Q4 with a 30-month completion target (see Page 18).
A new addition to the entertainment offerings on Yas Island – which is already home to Ferrari World and the Yas Marina Circuit – is SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, the first new SeaWorld marine-life park outside the US. Work on the project is well advanced. The next-generation park will also include the UAE’s first dedicated centre for marine research and education.
Meanwhile at Saadiyat Island, Aldar Properties intends to build the ‘world’s first Louvre-branded residences. Located within Saadiyat Grove, the developer’s iconic AED10-billion landmark destination, the Louvre Abu Dhabi Residences will boast 400 apartments including exquisite studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and five exclusive penthouses.
Spanning an area of 242,000 sq m, Saadiyat Grove will offer immersive retail, entertainment, and leisure spaces. It will feature 3,000 residential units, two hotels and co-working spaces for new enterprises and start-ups.
Aldar continues to spearhead development at Saadiyat Island and has recently acquired 6.2 million sq m of prime land located on the east side of the island valued at AED3.68 billion for a mixed-use project. The integrated community will include 2,700 units, most of which are villas, with an estimated gross development value of AED15 billion.
The developer has several developments under way in Abu Dhabi including Al Gurm, Noya, Yas Acres and Alreeman II.
Al Gurm, a series of archipelago-style islands over a total of 105,000 sq m, is a luxurious and secluded beachfront community on the southwest side of Abu Dhabi’s main island. Work is in progress on the second phase of the project, comprising 71 new plots which are available exclusively to UAE nationals.
Also open exclusively to UAE nationals is the second phase of Alreeman II development, known as Fay Alreeman, an AED2-billion masterplanned residential community in the Alshamkha area of Abu Dhabi. Fay Alreeman will comprise 554 villas available in three- to six-bedroom layouts. Handovers are expected to commence in the final quarter of 2025.
Aldar Properties has also launched the third phase of the Yas Acres gated community comprising The Magnolias, a premium residential development featuring 312 spacious villas and townhouses, which are scheduled for handover in Q3 2024. This comes following the success of the first two phases of the flagship development.
Also at Yas Island, Reportage Properties has started construction work on Diva featuring 736 new residential units. The project is targeted to be handed over by the end of 2024.
Another major island development is the $2.2-billion Reem Hills gated luxury community project on Reem Island, the first phase of which is due for completion in December 2024. Reem Hills comprises a private beach, man-made hill, islands, canal, retail and community facilities including parkland, schools, mosques, community centres, restaurants and leisure areas.
Reem Hills villas are located amongst lush greenery on a man-made hill with exclusive beach access,
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s latest waterfront dining and entertainment destination Al Qana – which opened its first attractions including a mega aquarium and Bridge Lifestyle Hub, a world-class landmark fostering natural and holistic wellness, late last year - is developing additional recreation spaces and a cinema which are due to open soon.
The key retail and leisure destination, being developed by Al Barakah International Investment, is also home to the region’s largest aquarium, as well as indoor and outdoor fitness facilities, retail and dining outlets, and a marina.
One of the largest industrial construction projects completed late last year in Abu Dhabi was the expansion of Emirates Global Aluminium’s (EGA) Taweelah smelter. The expansion added 66 new reduction cells to the three potlines at Al Taweelah, boosting production capacity by some 78,000 tonnes of hot metal per year.
The expansion was completed in three phases. The first phase was commissioned in April, and the second in July. The final phase saw the installation of 14 new reduction cells at Potline 3.
Meanwhile, the emirate is also taking a pioneering role with its ambitions for green hydrogen projects, which are currently in the techno-feasibility stage. Abu Dhabi National Energy Company’s (Taqa), in partnership with local entities is spearheading the development of two projects. The first project with Emirates Steel for a large-scale green hydrogen project will enable the production of the first green steel in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. The second project is a partnership with Abu Dhabi Ports to develop an industrial-scale green ammonia manufacturing and export facility in Abu Dhabi.
Another major industrial project is the AED22-billion fourth Borouge facility (Borouge 4) being developed by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and Austrian chemical giant Borealis.
The new plant will enable the next phase of growth at the Ruwais Industrial Complex by supplying feedstock to Abu Dhabi Chemicals Derivatives Company (Ta’ziz), enhancing local industrial supply chains and boosting In-Country Value opportunities. Scheduled to be operational by the end of 2025, the plant will produce 1.4 million tonnes of polyethylene, boosting the company’s total annual polyolefin production to 6.4 million tonnes, making Borouge the world’s largest single-site polyolefin complex.
Meanwhile, Ta’ziz and India’s Reliance Industries have agreed to launch Ta’ziz EDC & PVC, a world-scale chemical production partnership at the Ta’ziz Industrial Chemicals Zone in Ruwais.