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The Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi

10 April 2019

Saadiyat is one of TDIC's (Tourism Development and Investment Company) flagship developments, located in a natural island, 500 meters off the Abu Dhabi coast. The island will be well connected with 12kms of highways, 10kms of light rail networks, and 3 inter-island bridges, apart from state-of the-art communication network, to connect people on the island. In fact, Saadiyat is a five-minute drive from Downtown Abu Dhabi, 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, and an hour away from Dubai.

Covering 27 square kilometres, the whole project, is a premier island destination, and a modern integrated residential community, due for completion by 2020. Saadiyat will be home soon, to an estimated 145,000 residents offering a complete array of leisure and tourism amenities, apart from civic and cultural institutions.

saadiyat island abu dhabi

The infrastructure of the Island has been well-planned. It is powered by a grid station, and six primary sub-stations. Three district cooling plants serve the hotels and museums, while potable water has been provided through a central storage facility. The waste water will be treated by two plants and used for irrigation purposes.

Saadiyat represents a vibrant business hub, with world-class hospitality, residential, retail and cultural offerings, spanning from beaches to natural mangroves, and exceptional landmarks and cultural institutions, ultimately constituting the said address. It is a business hub for international commerce, a cultural magnet for arts aficionados, relaxed waterfront residence for its residents, home to dazzling architectural icons, a focal point for sporting experiences, and a pristine beachfront tourism destination.

This multi-faceted destination will ultimately offer a myriad of attractions to people, and will be the only place in the world to have an architecture designed by five individual Pritzker prize winners.

The western end of Saadiyat Island has been earmarked as Abu Dhabi's cultural district. Over the next five years, the Saadiyat skyline will include a huge array of prestigious landmarks, supported by some of the world’s renowned architects. It will include the Zayed National Museum designed by Norman Foster, Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry, Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid, and a Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando.

Saadiyat Cultural District

Spreading across an area of 2,430,000 square meters, the Saadiyat Cultural District is the country’s biggest art hub, and centre for global culture, drawing in regional, local and international visitors together. This entire district on Saadiyat is devoted to culture and arts.

Saadiyat Cultural District is home to Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Performing Arts Centre. The primary aim of the district is to establish a cultural and artistic infrastructure within Abu Dhabi, to educate and inspire future generations.

The Saadiyat Cultural District is the centre for global culture, attracting both local and international visitors with unique exhibitions, permanent collections, performances, and productions. Its iconic institutions will be housed in buildings, constituting the best of architecture during mid 21st century.

The Saadiyat Cultural District Exhibition at Emirates Palace is the ideal way to find out more about the cultural institutions that are now under development. This permanent exhibition, which is open to visitors daily from 10am to 10pm, showcases the architectural designs, models and concepts behind the museums.

Another noteworthy aspect of Saadiyat Cultural District is that it is the only place in the world to house the architecture designed by five individual Pritzker Prize winners.

Zayed National Museum

Zayed National Museum is built in honour of late leader of UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and will serve as a source of inspiration to the world. Located at the heart of Saadiyat Cultural District, this museum, tells the story of the region’s history and the unification of UAE through the life of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Father of the Nation. The Museum is due for opening by 2016.

On entering the Museum, the Museum will have seven permanent gallery displays, a dynamic special exhibition programme, wherein the visitors get to explore on a compelling journey to study the culture and history of the UAE. Each gallery draws inspiration from the values of Sheikh Zayed.

Lower Floor Galleries

The museum's core gallery – Life and Times, traces the story of Sheikh Zayed and his unification of the UAE, through photographs, key documents, national treasures and personal effects belonging to the late Ruler.

Then, there is the Falconry and Conservation Gallery - which focuses on the appreciation of the natural world of Sheikh Zayed, its preservation and conservation, and his passion for falconry. It was originally developed as a means for surviving in the desert, although it later evolved into a pastime.

The Sheikh Zayed Library is an encouragement for visitors to begin learning about Sheikh Zayed and UAE. The visitors in this library get to study the historical and cultural sources, and explore several interactive media.

Upper Floor Galleries

The core values of Sheikh Zayed which were introduced in the lower floor galleries will continue in detail, in the upper floor galleries.

The Land and Water Gallery explores the manner in which the natural resources in the region were used, cultivated and traded in the past. Sheikh Zayed had recognized the importance of preserving the nation’s environment, and building a framework, to ensure that a similarly sustainable approach is followed today.

The People and Heritage Gallery throws light on traditional values that have been in the heart of the UAE for centuries, emphasizing UAE's political and cultural life today.

The History and Society Gallery charts millennia of human settlement in the region. The gallery focuses on the history of the area ranging from Stone Age people's dwelling in the area, some 200,000 years ago, to creation of modern state by Sheikh Zayed.

The Science and Learning Gallery unfolds the passion for education by Sheikh Zayed, which has transformed a society that was based on traditional knowledge, into one wherein literacy and numeracy are available to all. Visitors get to know the influence that Arabic language, literature, navigation and medicine has had on the rest of the world.

The Faith and Islam Gallery explores crucial role of faith in Sheikh Zayed’s life as the driving force behind his humanitarianism and vision for future of the nation. The gallery offers a contemplative space wherein visitors can discover about the history, practice and central place of Islam in UAE.

The distinctive towers of Zayed National Museum resemble the wing tips of falcon, the most powerful symbol of rich cultural heritage of the UAE. The building has been particularly designed to minimize energy usage by incorporating natural ventilation and lighting within the five towers, through use of photo-voltaic panels and heat exchange technologies.

Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect, Lord Norman Foster, the museum is surrounded by well-landscaped garden, and other planting and installations that explore the key moments in the life of Sheikh Zayed.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

This unique design concept by Jean Nouvel, is a great contribution to the tradition of great Arabian architecture, and adds distinctive features to Saadiyat’s site. One of the major attractions of Louvre Abu Dhabi is its great dome, at 180 meters diameter, floating over a cluster of buildings and waterways. The dome allows magical entry of diffused light through the perforated spaces by interlaced patterns. Louvre Abu Dhabi is due for opening by 2015.

Louvre Abu Dhabi is a part of thirty year deal signed between Abu Dhabi City and the French government. Located on the Saadiyat Island complex, the museum will be approximately 24,000 square meters in size. Artwork from across the world will be showcased within the museum, aimed at bridging the gap between Eastern and Western art.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum is a dynamic institution devoted entirely for acquisition and display of modern, contemporary art, known for its excellence in architecture, exhibitions, collections and educational initiatives.

The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, is a 450,000 square foot museum, located in the Cultural District of Saadiyat Island, in the Capital of UAE, housing its own major modern contemporary art collection, with special exhibitions that include works from Guggenheim Foundation’s extensive collection.

Being the largest Guggenheim in the world, the museum will have global art, exhibitions, and educational programs, with particular focus on Middle Eastern contemporary art. The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi joins other leading international cultural institutions in creating a vibrant, cultural destination for visitors from across the world.

It helps promote the understanding and appreciation of arts and other manifestations of visual culture from a broad international perspective, while also sustaining the heritage of its local environment.

Designed by Frank Gehry, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, reflects Gulf architecture, incorporating the dramatic conical forms with a modern twist on the ancient wind-towers of the region.

Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be unveiled by 2017.

Performing Arts Centre

The performing Arts Centre at Saadiyat, is a dramatic hub of theatre, music and dance from across the world, designed by the renowned Iraqi/British architect Zaha Hadid. The The Performing Arts Centre is a 62 metre tall building, with capacity to seat 6300, and will include a music hall, concert hall, drama theatre, opera house, an experimental performance space, and an Academy of Performing Arts.

The Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre will be one of the major cultural institutions on the new 270 hectare cultural district of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

According to Zaha Hadid, the design of Performing Arts Centre depicts a sculptural form that emerges from a linear intersection of pedestrian paths within the cultural district, and gradually developing into a growing organism that sprouts a network of successive branches. The architecture increases in complexity, building up in depth and height, achieving multiple summits, as it winds through the site.

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum concept draws inspiration from Abu Dhabi’s natural surrounding, landscape and maritime traditions. The ship-like interior of the museum, with floating decks will help guide visitors through exhibition space.

The elegant architecture of the museum reflects a unique space carved out of a simple volume, shaped by the force and fluidity of Abu Dhabi's wind. The solitary form is like a gate over a vast water court, defining space of encounter between the two important landscape elements of city’s culture – the land and the sea. The water court visually mergers the site and the sea, re-inforcing the maritime theme of the museum.

The Maritime Museum reveals the vital role of the Arabian Gulf in daily life, wherein several livelihoods were dependent on dhow-making and pearl-diving, while several others depended on fishing from the sea. Within, the ship-like interior of the Maritime Museums, there are ramps and floating decks that can guide visitors through the exhibition space. Further, a traditional dhow will keep floating through the voids of the museum interior, featuring magnificent underwater aquarium.

The Saadiyat development also includes luxury resorts, beach clubs, golf and a natural reserve, that complete the features of the island.

Saadiyat Beach

The Saadiyat Beach, stretching 9kms, will be a much sought-after destination for both leisure seekers and those seeking to invest in high-end real estate. The Saadiyat beach promotes a laidback, relaxed lifestyle among its residents and tourists. The private and public beach clubs will offer several sport and recreational amenities. Apart from this, there are the day-spas, state-of-the-art gymnasiums, and unparalleled pool and beach access. The district will also feature community retail and cafe areas, all seated within a premium, pedestrian-friendly environment.


The Saadiyat Beach is located along the north-western coast of the island. The district will also include five-star hotels and international resorts making the most of their surrounding natural beauty, while also being eco-friendly.

Saadiyat Marina

The bustling waterfront glitz, the vibrant and sophisticated Saadiyat Marina is the commercial heart of the Saadiyat Island. At the Saadiyat Marina, one can hope to see an energized city lifestyle, amidst colourful cafe, chic boutique arcades and a vibrant nightlife. There are a true blend of designer urban apartments, upscale hotels, high quality commercial spaces, and elegant waterfront restaurants, all featuring a homage to the proud heritage of the country’s dhow boating, all positioned into an ultramodern, stunning business bay.

The Marina caters to both international tourists and residents alike. This self-contained community will also offer a range of entertainment and leisure amenities, apart from berthing for more than 1000 vessels. Located along the south-western coast, the Saadiyat Marina re-defines urban waterfront lifestyle, offering a blend of retail and bistro waterfront dining, serviced by luxury business hotels and high-end residences.

Saadiyat Reserve

Located along the southeastern coast of the Saadiyat Island, the Saadiyat Reserve is a rich sustainable environment with flourishing natural wetlands, free-flowing waterways, lush mangrove sanctuaries, all dotted with luxury homes and boutique hotels.

In fact, Saadiyat Reserve is the most calming place, and home to native mangrove forest and sanctuary. The developer TDIC, has worked closely with trusted scientific partners to ensure that their developments do not impinge upon neighbouring environment.

Another noted feature is the Saadiyat Reserve Golf Club, one of the flagship projects of Saadiyat Island, is a first for the region, and will be a special experience for golfing enthusiasts across the globe. Designed by leading premier golf course architecture firms in the world, Robert Trent Jones II, this 72-par, 18-hole course centres around a unique network of tidal waters. Therefore, the players get to discover a different game, whenever they tee off.

Saadiyat Promenade

The Promenade is a nice welcome for families seeking a vibrant and colourful space, and is located in proximity to the hustle and bustle of downtown Saadiyat. This waterfront hub will be a vibrant mix of contemporary family homes, stylish shops, friendly hotels, modern cafes and restaurants, all of which are surrounded by stunning beachfront, linked by picturesque boardwalks.

One of the main attractions of the Promenade is the wonderful blend of international restaurants and beachside cafes. The promenade will offer a buzzing cosmopolitan atmosphere with high quality cuisine, while also rendering a family-friendly environment. Given, its coastal ambience, laidback resorts, family entertainment amenities and tourist attractions, the promenade will draw both regional and international visitors alike.

Saadiyat Lagoons

Saadiyat Lagoons is an idyllic slice of natural beauty. Here the modern home living, meets the breathtaking natural splendour of Saadiyat’s tidal lagoon system, inviting a leisurely boating lifestyle. This is the place where pristine waters lap at your garden’s edge, and you could enjoy a relaxed lifestyle that is in sync with nature’s gentle rhythm.

At Saadiyat Lagoons, there are beautiful homes nestled amidst banks of tiny islets, offering residents easy access to stunning waterways, surrounded by beautiful canal system, and the unsurpassed glory of open Arabian Gulf.

The Saadiyat Lagoons stretches from the north-eastern cost of the island to south-central region.

Saadiyat Retreat

The Saadiyat Retreat is a true retreat in every sense of the word, and a sanctuary of calm, offering specialist spa amenities for visitors and luxuriously secluded spot for residents.

The Retreat actually depicts the sound of silence. The Saadiyat Retreat will be the pinnacle of exclusivity of the island, and a haven for those who wish to get away from it all. This stunning ‘island within an island’ also offers an exclusive range of intimate boutique hotels, with calming waterside ambience, and specialist spa and retreat amenities.

The area is also a haven for luxury shoreline homes, which stand to gain from its private, secluded and tranquil location. Located along the north-eastern end of the Saadiyat Island, the Saadiyat Retreat dream homes, offer a special kind of interior harmony.

In short, the upcoming mega project, Saadiyat Island, no-doubt, will be the international destination of desire, flagship project for Abu Dhabi, and a treasure to the world.

Robin Vinod

Freelance writer/blogger who writes on topics such as travel, real estate, employment, healthcare and everyday life in Dubai.

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