UFC Fight Island™ success exults Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi safe event concept

Abu Dhabi successfully staging Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Fight Island™ in July this year has brought to the fore the fact that the Emirates can hold safely large-scale events.

UFC® is the world’s premier mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, 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. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is an American mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion company based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

To stage safely UFC Fight Island™, a ‘safe zone’ was created for approximately 2,500 people over five weeks on Yas Island, which was locked off and completely isolated from the rest of the Emirates for the five-week period.

In tune with the principles of the ‘Go Safe’ certification program, the health and safety procedures undertaken by event staff were extensive and included COVID-19 testing every 72 hours and 14-day isolation periods. These strict measures helped achieve a COVID-free sanctuary, with the added benefits of one of a kind hospitality, including luxury hotels and entertainment facilities, all within the ‘protected bubble’.

Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Links Golf Course, Yas Beach, and the Flash Forum – the multi-purpose indoor venue where the UC bouts were staged – were all included within the safe zone.

Also included in the ‘safe zone’ are the du Arena, the renowned open-air venue famous for international music concerts, and the Etihad Arena, set to be the region’s largest multiuse indoor arena which can fit in 18,000 spectators. In central Abu Dhabi, Zayed Sports City also lodges a football stadium, tennis arena and numerous hotels, with a nearby cricket stadium. These facilities can be employed 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™.

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) now plans to emulate and evolve this same concept – rather use it as a template – for the return of tourism and other events in the coming months, including the scheduled annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, on the weekend of December 11th to December 13th, which will take place within the current ‘safe zone’ perimeter.

Explaining the concept, Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi, advised, “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.”

“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.”

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