Dubai/Gulf News: Abu Dhabi yesterday launched a Dh11.5 billion eco-tourism project – Desert Islands – combining six nature reserves spread across eight islands, including Sir Bani Yas, Dalma and Discovery, an e-mailed statement said.
"Development of the destination will be phased … estimated total investment from both the government and private sector will be more than $3 billion (Dh11.5 billion)," the statement said.
"When fully operational, the Desert Islands are expected to generate Dh1.2 billion ($326 million) in tourism revenue annually, and create around 6,500 jobs."
Desert Islands will attract around 250,000 visitors when the first phase is completed in 2010, rising to over a million a year by 2017.
All these islands will be linked by a ferry and hydrofoil service, water taxis, private resort boat service and regional and sea planes.
"This project embodies Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to develop its islands and other natural resources in line with the guidance and vision of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to progress the tourism sector in the UAE capital," General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said in a statement.
"Such projects will contribute to the generation of career and training opportunities for UAE nationals. This will be a world class tourism destination with local, regional and international appeal and one which will be developed in line with the environmental and heritage legacy laid down by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan."
Designed as a sanctuary of nature and authenticity unique within the Arabian Gulf, the Desert Islands will significantly raise Abu Dhabi’s international tourism standing creating a singular destination with experiences rivalling those of the Caribbean and the Maldives.