Covid-19 scourge delays opening of Etihad Arena


Etihad Arena Abu Dhabi update March 2020 Image: Miral

Covid-19 taking a pandemic form has led to organizers in Abu Dhabi deciding to delay the opening of its new 18,000-seat arena on Yas Island – Etihad Arena. The arena forms part of the greater development Yas Bay and is set to become the region’s largest multipurpose indoor arena.

The venue was all set to open on April 15, 2020, with a four-day run of Disney On Ice presents Frozen, but the show has now been deferred. Instead, organizers informed that a new Disney On Ice show will be staged in the capital from September 9 to 12, 2020, delaying it for now taking in view the coronavirus scourge the world over.

Media reports quoted organizers as saying, “The health and well-being of everyone attending our live events as well as our touring personnel is our top priority, and as a precautionary measure, Disney On Ice scheduled on April 15-18, 2020, at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi has been postponed.”

The aforementioned decision comes in the wake of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism issuing a notice to event organizers in the Emirate, directing them to cancel public gatherings until the end of April. Night clubs and tourist attractions, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and Manarat Al Saadiyat, Qasr Al Hosn, Culture Foundation, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain Oasis, Al Jahili Fort and Qasr Al Muwaiji, have all shuttered.

Qasr Al Watan Tour, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi will also be affected by the closure order.

Tickets are valid for the new dates on the same day of the week, start time and seat as the original purchase. Customers who have any questions about the transfer of tickets or obtaining a refund should contact the point of purchase.

A representative of Miral, the venue’s developer, remarked, “The health and well-being of guests is our top priority and we are working with our partners and event organizers to ensure a seamless customer experience once Etihad Arena’s doors open. We will continue to assess the situation and look forward to welcoming the first show and all guests in the near future.”

The arena’s construction work is all set to get concluded on Yas Island’s new development Yas Bay, and will be able to fit in up to 18,000 spectators once complete. Its name was revealed at the beginning of this year, when the collaboration between Miral and Etihad Airways was announced.

The arena will stage a variety of events including sporting competitions, conferences, cultural performances, concerts, and many other activities throughout the year, and will offer a flexible capacity starting at 200.

Work on the entire Yas Bay development began in 2017, and the project was said to be 75 percent complete in October 2019. The Dh12 billion mega projects (£2.66bn/€2.93bn/$3.27bn) will attribute for dozens of cafes and restaurants, a pier, promenade, infinity pool and infrastructure for a metro stop, should a network be built.

Occupying one million square meters, Yas Bay will include a Hilton hotel, homes and the new headquarters of TwoFour54, the media free zone in Al Muntazah.

Etihad Arena will be operated by Flash Entertainment. Etihad Airways agreed to a deal to acquire naming rights to the multiuse indoor arena. Etihad reached the agreement with Miral, which is seeking to position the HOK-designed arena as a leading entertainment destination in the region.

In a first for the region, Disney on Ice Frozen was set to thrill audiences at Abu Dhabi’s latest entertainment venue, on the waterfront of Yas Bay.

Earlier, the Etihad Arena General Manager, Brint Jackson, informed, “The Disney On Ice Frozen performances were being set up to welcome between 5,000-7,000 people per show.”

Etihad Arena is set to become a go-to venue for live entertainment and will be able to accommodate both large-scale and private events.

The number of coronavirus cases now stands at 113 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Etihad Arena to go cashless

Jackson said that sustainability is at the heart of new entertainment and leisure venue.

Plans are in place to make the new Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi 100 percent cashless by 2020 end.

The Etihad Arena already has in its kitty the MENA Green Building Award for 2018 for sustainability building design of the year, which has resulted in water and energy savings of 22 and 28 percent, respectively.

General manager Brint Jackson has revealed that the sustainability initiatives extend through to the operations side of the business – “It’s a huge part in what we do. That includes becoming plastic-free and a move towards e-tickets, using the latest technology.”

He further explained, “It’s really becoming a trend across some of the major venues in the States. What it essentially means is that we would offer and take and be available to cater to taking any of the cashless systems you might be used to, obviously credit cards, but also Apple Pay and those sort of PayPal systems will all be up and running in the venue and easy to use.”

Although he conceded it will be a “hybrid” in the beginning and will take time, he said it was something they were hoping to achieve before the end of 2020.

“We’re pretty aggressive with it. As long as we can get all of the systems up and running here, they’re seamless and easy to use, I don’t see a reason why we can’t do that pretty soon after operation. Our internal goals are aggressive, we’d like to try and be as cashless as possible towards the end of this year.”

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