Ambitious plans follow strong 2022 performance, attributed to innovative, resilient and integrated culture and tourism sector. The 2023 growth roadmap includes:
- Tourism growing to more than 24 million total visitors
- Community awareness of Emirati heritage increased to 80%
- Up to 4 million visitors to Abu Dhabi’s cultural sites
ABU DHABI, UAE, June 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) today outlined its roadmap for growth in 2023 that will promote, protect and progress Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors. This follows a strong 2022 performance driven by the innovation, resilience and integration of these sectors.
In conversation with members of the media, H.E. Saood Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, emphasised that culture is at the heart of DCT Abu Dhabi’s plans and underlined the role it plays in creating innovative and resilient communities. As part of a strategic goal to foster a strong national identity, DCT Abu Dhabi continues its mandate to promote and disseminate Emirati heritage and cultural identity.
His Excellency Saood Al Hosani, Undersecretary of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “With culture at the heart of everything we do, we have set bold and ambitious targets for 2023 as we promote, protect and progress the culture and tourism sectors in Abu Dhabi. We are proud to share some of our 2022 results, which powerfully demonstrate how we re-ignited the engine of growth – driven by these resilient sectors, visionary leadership and key partnerships across the different creative industries.
“We are progressing Abu Dhabi by creating new job and career opportunities and enabling growth across the culture sector throughout the culture and creative industries (CCI) while enabling business and leisure tourism to thrive. Our purpose is to share Abu Dhabi with the world and enrich lives,” he added.
2023 plans: enriching lives and fuelling growth
With the promotion and protection of culture central to its mandate, DCT Abu Dhabi is building on the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE, to strengthen national identity, nurture talent, create better awareness of Emirati heritage and values, and develop a robust and innovative culture scene. The department continues to develop policies to preserve Abu Dhabi’s heritage, the emirate’s museums and culture sites and to curate visual and performing arts programmes, attracting a diverse audience from the UAE, the region and the world.
DCT Abu Dhabi views culture and tourism as important enablers to the nation’s social and economic progress development and the Department’s support to the CCI reflects its commitment to building a diversified, dynamic, and sustainable economy for the emirate.
As a custodian of CCI and working with its partners, DCT Abu Dhabi will support the creation of more than 300 jobs in the fast-growing e-gaming industry. The target will be spread across more than 20 new companies with potential for significant expansion, to drive a successful gaming and esports ecosystem in the UAE capital.
DCT Abu Dhabi also promotes and protects the Arabic language, ensuring that its many initiatives are rooted in the emirate’s land and context. The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) continues to support Arabic proficiency among the UAE community, while facilitating the growth of the Arabic publishing industry through key projects like Kalima and Esdarat. ALC Abu Dhabi’s 2023 goals to attract increased visitation to book fairs and festivals have also been increased.
“All of these plans contribute to our position as a key platform for culture and creativity, where thought leadership, cross-cultural exchange, and innovation thrive. Central to this, we are proud to continue the development of key museums for Abu Dhabi, such as Zayed National Museum, Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Museum, while also hosting cultural events such as the upcoming Culture Summit Abu Dhabi later this year. In this sixth edition we will once again convene leaders from the field of arts, heritage, media, museums, public policy and technology – identifying ways in which culture can transform societies and communities worldwide,” H.E. Al Hosani added.
Ambitious tourism targets
To support the Department’s target of welcoming more than 24 million visitors in 2023 – from 18 million in 2022 – the destination offering continues to grow, with the recent opening of many new attractions such as SeaWorld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Pixoul Gaming, Adrenark Adventure and Snow Abu Dhabi, incentivising visitors to return to ensure they experience everything Abu Dhabi has to offer.
Experience Abu Dhabi, the destination brand of DCT Abu Dhabi, is activating the emirate as a year-round tourism destination that offers exciting, inspiring and restorative experiences that visitors can discover at their own pace. This includes showcasing the emirate of Abu Dhabi’s ‘living oasis’ of Al Ain, with authentic experience for regional visitors and culture-seekers.
Throughout 2023, Experience Abu Dhabi will reach more than 40 markets internationally, through 22 creative campaigns. As part of these efforts, Experience Abu Dhabi has introduced a series of market-specific campaigns in 2023, including an Arabic-first campaign video for the GCC starring Ahmed Helmy and Mona Zaki, and signed a two-year brand ambassadorship deal with Bollywood star, Ranveer Singh to resonate with Indian audiences.
Abu Dhabi’s year-round events and experiences are clustered together under the action-packed Abu Dhabi Calendar, with family-friendly entertainment and concerts, complemented by collaborations with global IP partners, such as the UFC, NBA and Formula 1. This also includes seasonal retail festivals, a rich culinary scene and other drivers of growth and visitation.
2022: a year of successful initiatives across Culture and Tourism sectors
DCT Abu Dhabi revealed details on 2022 visitor figures from the Department’s upcoming Annual Report, underpinning how Abu Dhabi achieved 18 million visitors throughout the year – a 17% increase in visitor numbers from the previous year, as part of the recovery from the pandemic. Growth across both domestic and international tourism demonstrates increased awareness of Abu Dhabi as a destination and widespread appeal of an expanded range of year-round cultural experiences, entertainment, sporting events, trade shows, and international roadshows.
Underpinning the importance of culture in building strong and innovative communities, UNESCO and DCT Abu Dhabi co-published Culture in Times of COVID-19: Resilience, Recovery and Revival, giving a global overview of the impact of the pandemic on the culture sector since March 2020, and outlining directions for its revival and strategies that will better shape the sector into a resilient and sustainable one for generations to come.
DCT Abu Dhabi organised key exhibitions and an impressive series of visual and performing arts programmes across its different museums and culture sites and welcomed more than 245,000 students to learn about Abu Dhabi’s cultural scene.
The Department, fulfilling its mandate to increase awareness of Emirati heritage, inscribed two new Intangible Cultural Heritage elements into the UNESCO ICH lists, including Alheda’a, the ancient art of camel calling and the date palm, and continued to organise major cultural events and festivals, such as Abu Dhabi Art, Al Hosn Festival, the Handicrafts Festival, the Maritime Heritage Festival, and Abu Dhabi and Al Ain Book Fairs.
The Department also announced the National History Museum Abu Dhabi to the world, through an introductory exhibition featuring “Stan” the 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex. The Department emphasised the role of the museum as a scientific research institution, presenting educational resource for learning about the evolving story of our planet, viewed through an Arabian lens and aiming to ignite a life-long passion for the natural world in visitors of all ages.
DCT Abu Dhabi subsequently built anticipation for the launch of teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi through an immersive art installation, allowing visitors to actively experience the digital art experience.
2022: promoting tourism in Abu Dhabi
DCT Abu Dhabi confirmed the growth of both leisure and MICE visitation, revealing that hotel occupancy rates for 2022 exceeded 70%, surpassing the Middle East average. That included a 24% increase in overnight hotel guests to 4.1 million, when compared with 2021, while the average length-of-stay per visitor was three nights, resulting in a significant 18% year-on-year increase in revenue per available room, compared with 2021.
With a long-standing reputation as a global centre for business, Abu Dhabi’s position as a premier destination for business events was reinforced as it welcomed more than 600,000 MICE visitors and hosted 1,210 MICE events in 2022, showcasing its world-leading venues, hotels, and supporting facilities.
The increase in MICE activity was empowered by DCT Abu Dhabi’s revamped Advantage Abu Dhabi 2.0 programme, which provides a unique opportunity for event organisers to gain destination-driven value by providing bespoke destination support. This all ensured the emirate was front of mind as a regional centre for doing business.
Regarding the future of MICE activity in the emirate, DCT Abu Dhabi recently won the bid to host the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization. Hosting this biennial event in the UAE capital for the first time further positions Abu Dhabi as a destination of choice with the capacity and range of capabilities to host globally significant conventions.
DCT Abu Dhabi continues to work closely with Miral, Etihad Airways, ADNEC and other MICE partners to attract even more meetings and incentive groups to the emirate, with Abu Dhabi recently named the top Middle East City for Association Meetings by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi:
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors and its creative industries, fuelling economic progress and helping to achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the DCT Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the DCT Abu Dhabi’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies and systems to support the culture, tourism and creative industries.
DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.
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