Capital to see Dh630bn investment

Abu Dhabi tourism authorities plan to attract 2.7 million tourists a year by 2012. (CRAIG SCARR)

Investment in tourism infrastructure has increased significantly in Abu Dhabi this year to cater to the growing needs of the rapidly expanding vital sector.

And the amount of money pouring into tourism projects is expected to grow further, according to Dr Abdulraman Al Tassan, CEO of Rakaa Properties.

"All indicators point to further upside moves in the investment flow to Abu Dhabi's real estate sector," he said. "These expectations have received a further boost recently with the announcement of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority's five-year strategic plan.

"The investment in infrastructure projects in the emirate will exceed Dh630 billion by 2013 according to recent reports.

"The UAE is ranked among the world top five countries in terms of the tourism sector's contribution to gross domestic product, calculated at 13.7 per cent. Projected revenues of Dh196bn will encourage a further wave of investment in the country."

Rakaa Properties, the real estate development subsidiary of Saudi Arabia-based Rakaa Holding, is developing the Dynasty and Falcon Crest towers on Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi.

Tourism chiefs in the capital are aiming to attract 2.7 million tourists a year by 2012 but are taking a conservative approach to guest targets to ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to satisfy demand.

The UAE's tourism sector achieved record growth in 2007, driven by an increasing influx into the emirate for regional fairs and exhibitions. Peak season 100 per cent hotel occupancy rates have driven up the price of a room by 300 per cent.

Increases have been fuelled further by the fall in the value of the dollar-pegged dirham against the euro that has boosted the purchasing power of the large number of tourists from Europe.

According to recent studies the tourism sector has emerged as a top investment priority for the GCC countries with about Dh1 trillion allocated to develop tourism infrastructure over the coming decade. The UAE is the region's dominant player with an 85 per cent share of the total value of announced tourism and hospitality projects. The country has the region's largest number of hotels under development – 253 – followed by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.