Abu Dhabi to review tourism projects due to crunch


ABU DHABI – Abu Dhabi plans to review its tourism investment due to tightening credit conditions, although it will go ahead with plans to bring the Guggenheim and Louvre museums to the oil exporting region.

“We are reprioritising some of our major projects, especially those that have not been announced, because the debt markets are a little careful and cannot be tapped as six months ago,” Lee Tabler, chief executive of government-owned Tourism Development & Investment Co (TDIC), told reporters on Sunday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference organised by London-based MEED magazine, Tabler said TDIC would review hotels and non-commercial projects such as museums and education, although it would go ahead with plans to build a branch of France’s Louvre museum.

The new museum is being built in Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness), a $27-$29 billion luxury resort project with marinas, shops and art centres including the world’s largest Guggenheim, designed by celebrated architect Frank Gehry.

The United Arab Emirates, an energy-producing federation of seven emirates which includes Abu Dhabi, is developing its tourism industry as part of a drive to wean the economy off oil.

Tabler said in October TDIC planned to launch resort projects worth up to 10 billion dirhams ($2.72 billion) this year and next year.

Abu Dhabi is expected to receive 2 million visitors next year, up from about 1.7 million this year.

TDIC, a company owned by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, expects to provide 20 percent of hotel rooms in the capital by 2012, Tabler said last month.