It is already the capital’s very own fantasy island – but even more bold dreams are set to be turned into reality on Yas in the months and years to come. It already hosts the thrilling finale to the Formula One racing season, is home to the world’s fastest rollercoaster, a futuristic five-star hotel shaped like a spaceship and boasts a glittering marina stretch featuring some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the UAE – but that is just the start of it on Yas Island.
Ambitious plans are in place to transform the isle into a global destination attracting as many as 48 million visitors a year by 2022 and make it a place where the whole city comes to live, work and play.
Two luxury hotels, a plush promenade, scores of new restaurants, a shiny new arena and thousands of new homes will be built as Yas refuses to take no for an answer. Here are the dynamic developments swiftly putting Yas Island on the global map...
Capital thrill-seekers will soon be able to scale new heights as the world’s tallest indoor climbing wall prepares to open its doors later this year.
CLYMB, which will be linked to the nearby Yas Mall and next to Ferrari World, is being driven forward by developers Miral, will also be home to the world’s widest flight chamber – why break one record when you can obliterate two at once?
The flight chamber will recreate the experience of skydiving in an unmatched 32 foot-wide environment, while the only way is up when you tackle an indoor climbing wall proudly standing more than 140 feet high. Visitors can also enjoy sheer delight on four walls of varying difficulty.
The impressive facility will also include retailers, food and beverage outlets and space to host parties. Beating the entertainment value on offer here will be a tall order.
The international attraction will be making waves in Abu Dhabi come 2022. UAE destination developers Miral have joined forces with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment to deliver a first-of-its-kind marine life theme park on the island.
The next-generation venue will have a whole host of impressive features, including the UAE’s first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre, with world-class facilities and resources for the care and conservation of local marine life. The park will integrate up-close animal experiences, mega attractions, a huge aquarium and much more.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
We all know Yas Island is pretty great, right? But how cool would it to be to have a guided tour of Batman’s old stomping ground, Gotham City, or pay a flying visit to Superman’s home from home, Metropolis. The great news is you will be able to experience both – and a whole lot more to boot – when the eagerly-awaited Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi swings open its doors later this year.
The ultra-immersive attraction will feature six worlds, with Metropolis and Gotham City, alongside Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, Dynamite Gulch (which features iconic Looney Tunes characters), plus Warner Bros. Plaza, which has been inspired by the nostalgic glories of Hollywood in years gone by.
The little superhero in us just can’t wait until it opens. For the first time ever in the Middle East, fans will be able to stroll the streets of Metropolis, a modern-styled city of towering skyscrapers and prowl the shadowy alleys of Gotham City in this larger-than-life land where action-packed family fun can be found around every corner.
The jaw-dropping theme park, which is being brought to the capital thanks to a partnership between Warner Bros. and Miral, will span a staggering 1.65 million sq ft and will boast 29 rides, shows and attractions – almost all of which are now in place.
Pam Lifford, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, says: “Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will be a state-of-the-art themed experience that authentically brings some of the studio’s most iconic characters and stories to life under one roof for the first time in the Middle East.
"We have been closely collaborating with our partners at Miral to faithfully construct immersive worlds that resonate with precise details and are thrilled to share these unique experiences with fans this year.”
Building for the future
If you just can’t wait to start living the high life on Yas, then check out the awesome Ansam development.
Located on the west side of the island, Ansam features four Andalusian-style apartment buildings made up of studios and one, two and three-bedroom units.
Residents can enjoy all the luxuries of a resort lifestyle, with extensive community facilities and a host of local retail outlets, all integrated with plush garden-style public areas affording magnificent views of the Yas Links Golf Course.
The launch of Ansam is a milestone moment for Yas as it is the first housing development in the area to be handed over to residents, marking the establishment of a permanent population on the island that will only grow in the years to come.
Ansam aims to bring a lavish lifestyle without losing a sense of community. Properties are linked to the surrounding gardens and amenities by interlocking access roads and pathways. Entry and exit points are manned by manual and automated security systems, while residents are provided with proximity cards to allow barrier access to parking areas for more exclusivity and privacy.
There are plenty of great views to enjoy, too, with the development making the most of its unique golf course frontage. The landscaped surroundings are connected by winding footpaths and rest areas, lined with trees, shrubs and flowers to create a wonderfully serene atmosphere.
Following the completion of construction work, Aldar Properties began the phased hand over of residential units to home owners and investors last month. Properties are on sale now but, be warned, you will have to have pretty deep pockets to secure the keys to a home here. Prices on two- and three-bedroom abodes range from Dhs1.8 million to Dhs3.4 million. It might be time to start saving.
More than 2,000 new homes will be built as part of a Dhs2.4 billion waterfront scheme set to make a huge splash on the island.
Leading property development, investment and management firm, Aldar Properties, is driving forward Water’s Edge, an exciting scheme which will see 2,225 new homes constructed on a waterfront site lined with recreational and retail facilities, restaurants and cafés, all within easy reach of the island’s ever-growing collection of attractions.
Work on the project is now underway ahead of a 2020 launch and it looks set to be one of the most exclusive addresses in the emirate. Property prices will start at Dhs480,000, so maybe talk to the bank manager now.
Water’s Edge will be situated on Yas Island’s eastern shores and the bulk of units will have full or partial views over the water.
Three of the 13 apartment buildings went on the market back in November and swiftly sold out, bringing sales to Dhs800 million.
Talal Al Dhiyeb, chief executive officer for Aldar Properties, says: “We are delighted to have sold out these two phases of Water’s Edge in such a short space of time. The exceptional response demonstrates customer confidence in Aldar’s developments and our ability to create communities in which people want to live. The continued demand for homes on Yas Island further solidifies the destination’s reputation as one of Abu Dhabi’s most desirable locations.”
Water’s Edge will have pedestrian access to all of its amenities, which will include a waterfront promenade and retail and dining facilities. The apartments will be complemented by private courtyards with spacious landscaped areas, pools, multi-purpose courts and a mosque.
H.E Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chief executive officer at Aldar, adds: “Yas Island has established itself as Abu Dhabi’s most exciting destination with world-renowned leisure and entertainment attractions, and a range of luxury apartments, townhouses and villas set to welcome residents over the coming years. Water’s Edge is the latest chapter in the Yas Island story – bringing high-quality waterfront living to the emirate.”
A state-of-the-art arena, two luxury hotels more than 50 restaurants and a plush promenade will all be part of a Dhs12 billion mega-project aimed at transforming the southern side of the island.
The ambitious scheme, which is again being spearheaded by Miral, will be split into three distinct zones: a vibrant public waterfront and entertainment district; a media zone, which will be the new campus for twofour54; and the Residences at Yas Bay, an urban island community promising the ultimate Yas lifestyle.
The development is set to attract more than 15,000 new residents and 10,000 working professionals to Yas Island.
The crown jewel of the scheme will be the Yas Bay waterfront, a glittering three-kilometre stretch that will feature two hotels, a recreational pier, plus the 18,000-capacity Yas Arena, a flexible venue operated by Flash Entertainment which can be set up to host both large and smaller-scale events, including major sporting competitions, cultural performances and concerts.
The beautiful waterfront promenade will contain more than 50 new restaurants and 20 retail shops, a beach club, boutique cinema and a family entertainment centre, all serving an estimated 14,000 visitors every day.
Yas Bay will also deliver waterfront living. The Residences at Yas Bay will house 35 plots for investors and developers to mould into a buzzing residential development for urban professionals and families alike.
Ocean-view buildings will be set among 20 recreational parks, with volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, cycling and jogging tracks, with plans in place for three mosques and two schools to provide residents with a comprehensive community infrastructure.
An impressive 3.2 million square-foot campus will become the shiny new home of twofour54, the city’s successful media zone, which is currently based near Khalifa Park.
Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and chairwoman of the Media Zone Authority, says: “twofour54 is one of the UAE’s success stories and is home to over 450 media companies and a talent pool comprised of nearly 4,000 professionals.
“Our ambition is to build on the successes of the last nine years and contribute to the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy by continuing the growth of our leading media and entertainment hub and creating jobs for the next generation.”
A luxury new Hilton hotel will be at the heart of the Yas Bay development. Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island Resort, which is set to open for business next year, will have space for 641 rooms, a multi-purpose conference centre, seven dining outlets and an innovative urban beach concept with an infinity pool suspended above the waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Carlos Khneisser, vice-president of development at MENA Hilton, says the opening is a “landmark” deal for the global hotel giants.
He adds: “This puts us at the forefront of the transformational journey Yas Island is undertaking to become one of the world’s top leisure destinations. Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island Resort is indicative of the calibre of project we are looking at for our resort portfolio here in the Middle East.”
What’s happening in 2018
Okay, so the future is very bright in Yas Island, but the present isn’t looking too shabby, either. There are a host of fun-packed events taking over the entertainment destination in the weeks and months to come, from live sporting action and family fun to mega music concerts. So there is a reason to hop on over every week of the year. Here are some of the highlights of a terrific 2018.
Feb 9: Bob Marley Festival
The incredible life of the Reggae legend will be celebrated at a massive festival of Caribbean beats, food and art on Yas Beach. The musical maestro’s own son, Ky-Mani Marley, will be performing live at the fun-packed bonanza on February 9 alongside Jamaican dancehall reggae artist Busy Signal.
Dhs73 (first 100 tickets sold), Dhs125 (early bird from Virgin Megastore and UAE Exchange outlets and online at Virgin and Platinum List), Dhs160 (on the gate). Fri Feb 9, 3pm onwards. Yas Beach, Yas Island, www.reggae-beachfest.com.
Feb 24: Dua Lipa live
The history-making singing sensation will be making her solo debut in the UAE for a hotly anticipated gig at du Forum.The chart-topping star notched up five Brit Award nominations, the most in a single year by any female act, and was also the most streamed female artist in the UK in 2017.
The talented 22-year-old racked up sales of more than five million for her eponymous debut album, cementing her position as an artist to be reckoned with. Fans will be able to see the charismatic performer take centre stage on Saturday, February 24.
Dhs265 (general admission), Dhs475 (golden circle), VIP Platform (Dhs940, 21 and over only). Sat Feb 24. Du Forum, Yas Island, www.ticketmaster.ae.
March 2: Truckers Beats
Food, glorious food (and a generous helping of live music) will be coming to the capital at the beginning of March. Truckers Beats, which will be held at Yas Links, will feature a fantastic 15 food trucks serving up cuisine from all over the globe, plus a top line-up of international artists. Bring along your picnic baskets and enjoy the brilliant beats and bites.
Fri Mar 2. Yas Links Abu Dhabi. Visit www.yasisland.ae for more information.
March 16: Fifth Harmony
You can almost hear the teenage shrieks already, can’t you? The hugely popular US pop group will be wowing the crowds in the middle of March with their high-energy dance routines and catchy tunes. The former American X Factor finalists, who have topped charts in more than 50 countries, are sure to be one of the hottest tickets in town this year.
Dhs250-400. Friday, March 16. From 7.30pm. du Forum, www.ticketmaster.ae.
March 30-31: Harlem Globetrotters
If you are after a great day of family fun, this is pretty much a slam dunk. The world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters have entertained fans in 122 countries over the last nine decades with their crowd-pleasing blend of sporting skill and showmanship – and the next stop is Abu Dhabi. The chance to be part of a huge sporting spectacle arrived, so now the ball is well and truly in your court.
From Dhs79. Fri Mar 30 7pm. Sat Mar 31 4pm. Du Forum, www.ticketmaster.ae.