By 2022, it is hoped that Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island will have become one of the top 10 leisure destinations in the world. This ambition, years in the making, is being pursued with the help of several large-scale and high-profile projects.

In general, tourism numbers are growing rapidly in the UAE, with the sector in Abu Dhabi and Dubai showing a 3.6% increase during the first three months of 2018, compared to the same period last year, according to recent statistics issued by the tourism departments of the two emirates.

In addition, the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 highlights tourism among the 12 sectors that it outlines as priorities for the emirate as it strives to achieve the economic growth and diversification it requires for future security.

And now, thanks to a number of entertainment, hospitality, and cultural developments taking shape across Yas Island, the UAE capital has become a serious player in the tourism game, one that is even giving Dubai a run for its money.

Abu Dhabi-based Miral, the island’s developer, considers itself an instrumental part of this growth, creating now-iconic projects such as Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. It is currently in the process of finalising another major theme park attraction.

Chief executive officer of Miral, Mohammed Al Zaabi, details the island’s rapid development and explains how his company it striving to ensure the island achieves its goal of becoming one of the most sought-after tourism destinations in the world.

“The number of people that stayed in Abu Dhabi has risen [since last year],” he tells Construction Week.

 In fact, a record 4.88 million people stayed in Abu Dhabi’s 162 hotels and hotel apartments during 2017, meaning the emirate recorded a 9.8% year-on-year rise.

“Yas Island is a vision we are very proud of. It is a dream that keeps us busy and excited every single day,” Al Zaabi says.

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Along with expansion plans for Ferrari World and the island’s flagship water park, this July, Miral will be opening Abu Dhabi’s first indoor theme park in partnership with Warner Bros.

“It has been a great success. [The project will have taken] about 39 months by the time we open the park, and [has logged] 32 million man hours so far, with more than 6,800 engineers working on the project,” Al Zaabi says.

The park was almost 96% complete when Construction Week spoke to the Miral chief executive in April. At that time, the testing, tuning, and alignment of the park’s digital and media systems was being finalised.