TDIC develops sustainable portfolio

Cultural district, Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), created to manage the development of real estate assets held by the government of Abu Dhabi, has made huge progress since its formation just a few years ago with more than 60 projects now under way. Under the leadership of Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, TDIC’s goal is to work with the public and private sectors to develop a sustainable tourism portfolio which embraces all aspects of Abu Dhabi’s heritage and culture while protecting its natural resources.
The most prominent example of this is at Saadiyat Island -meaning ‘island of happiness’ – which is being created around an eco-sensitive philosophy.
The low lying island 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi will have seven distinct districts: the Cultural District, Saadiyat Marina, Saadiyat Beach, South Beach, Island Lagoons, The Wetlands and Eco Point. Each district has been planned to take into account the island’s natural beach, wildlife and flora and fauna habitats, and the means of preserving them.
Saadiyat Island will have 19 km of white, sandy beach, two golf courses – one is the eco-conscious Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, the UAE’s first Gary Player signature course.
The island will also have 29 hotels with over 7,000 rooms, three marinas with berthing for 1,000 vessels, over 8,000 private villas, resorts set on spectacular beaches and over 38,000 apartments.
The Cultural District – already touted as the world’s largest cultural development – is a $27 billion project which is expected to increase tourism and will house four museums, a performance centre, and 19 pavilions all linked by a canal.
The line up is impressive. Zaha Hadid’s performing arts centre will serve as a multi-discipline venue, hosting performances of classical and contemporary music, opera and theatre from around the world. It will also house an academy of performing arts to foster local and regional talent. The 62 metre high building will feature five theatres, a music hall, opera house, drama theatre and flexible theatre with a combined seating capacity of 6,300.
Frank Gehry’s new Guggenheim museum is nearly 30 percent larger than his iconic Bilbao building, and is a jumble of twisted stone clad boxes, slanted square towers, and cones. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will present modern and contemporary art from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and from its own permanent collection. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum will be the world’s largest Guggenheim facility.
Tadao Ando’s Maritime Museum takes the form of a rectangular box whose underside is scalloped into a 46-foot-high arch over the harbour. The museum will celebrate the maritime heritage of the Arabian Gulf and serve to inspire environmental stewardship of the marine environment.
Jean Nouvel has designed the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which will present major artefacts and works in archaeology, the fine arts and decorative arts from all historic periods.  Exhibitions will be drawn from the collections of the Louvre and other famous French museums.
The Sheikh Zayed National Museum will honour the legacy of the late UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi. Designed by Lord Norman Foster, it will concentrate on local and regional culture.
Most of the work on the museums is earmarked for completion by the beginning of 2013.