Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi to evolve ‘safe zones’ concept to continue to host events despite Covid-19 restrictions
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced it is to develop its “safe zone” to ensure the return of tourism and other major events in the coming months.
Tha announcement follows the recent successful delivery of UFC Fight Island, which featured the creation of a world-class safe zone for approximately 2,500 people over five weeks on Yas Island.
UFC Fight Island occupied an 11km stretch of the island – the ‘safe zone’ – which was locked off and secluded from the rest of the emirate for the five-week period.
UFC personnel from 35 nations, event staff and Yas Island employees were housed for the entire duration of the event in some of Abu Dhabi’s prime hotels.
The health and safety procedures undertaken by event staff were extensive and included Covid-19 testing every 72 hours and 14-day isolation periods to reinforce the “protected bubble”.
The safe zone also included Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Links Golf Course, Yas Beach, and the Flash Forum, a multi-purpose indoor venue where the fights were staged.
DCT Abu Dhabi said it now plans to evolve this concept for the return of other events in the coming months, including the scheduled annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of 2020, which will take place within the current safe zone perimeter.
Also included in the safe zone are the du Arena and the Etihad Arena.
DCT Abu Dhabi said that in central Abu Dhabi, Zayed Sports City which houses a football stadium, tennis arena and numerous hotels, with a nearby cricket stadium, can be used to create similar event safe zones in the future, enabling Abu Dhabi to build on the event-hosting roadmap it has created through the hosting of UFC Fight Island.
“We are extremely proud of the DCT Abu Dhabi-led ‘safe zone’ concept, which enabled us to deliver a comfortable and COVID-19-free bubble for five weeks, cementing Abu Dhabi’s position as a safe global destination offering diverse experiences,” said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi.
“Our partnership with UFC Fight Island has allowed us to innovate in setting a new benchmark in creating experiences for the public despite the recent circumstances caused by the pandemic. The lessons we have learned from this event will be carried forward as we continue to create new engaging experiences in a post-Covid-19 world, but at the same time take lessons we can use in other areas of events and tourism.”
Dana White, UFC president, said: “I would like to thank the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, for their valued partnership and for the hard work and effort in making this possible. Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island was one of the most incredible experiences of my 30 years in the business. We look forward to coming back to Abu Dhabi.”
UFC is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation, with more than 318 million fans and 102 million social media followers. The organization produces more than 40 live events annually in some of the most prestigious arenas around the world, while broadcasting to nearly one billion TV households across more than 175 countries.
Events are key to Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector which record a 10.5 percent increase in tourist numbers in 2019 over the previous year.
According to figures from DCT Abu Dhabi, the number of international visitors to the UAE capital last year reached an estimated 11.35 million, including 2.83m overnight and 8.53m same-day visitors.
Saood Al Hosani, acting under-secretary at DCT Abu Dhabi, said numbers were boosted by the wide range of events hosted throughout the 12 months including the Special Olympics, AFC Asian Cup, Abu Dhabi Showdown Week, Formula One and the Papal Mass.
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