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Dubai had become a well-known and significant tourism destination.  By Contrast, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the emirates was still little known.  There were many questions: How should Abu Dhabi respond to the global tourism industry? Should Abu Dhabi compete with Dubai? Should Abu Dhabi be an extension of Dubai or try to be like Dubai? What type of tourism should Abu Dhabi develop? What types of investments will be required? What type of organisation will be required to drive tourism development?  How can Abu Dhabi take its rightful place as the capital of the Emirates?

Key Features & Implementation


In identifying the tourism strengths, opportunities and potential for Abu Dhabi as well as developing strategies and recommendations for institutional reform and budgets to support the sector, a number of tasks were undertaken, including but not limited to the following:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Tourism Economic impact assessment
  • Competitive Destination Assessment
  • Destination Diagnostics and SWOT Analysis
  • Extensive Stakeholder Interviews and survey execution and analysis
  • Tourism Demand forecasting
  • Market assessment – including market surveys and analysis
  • Tourism Product Assessment
  • Competitive Tourism Analysis
  • Secondary Research and analysis
  • Surveys, assessments, site. visits and analysis of key sites, cultural attractions. Identification of their tourism potential
  • Carried out image and perception research of Abu Dhabi in key markets including Germany and Britain.
  • Best Practice Analysis
  • Global trend analysis


Sustainable Tourism Development

Developed a sustainable tourism and investment strategy that still relevant for Abu Dhabi today.

Abu Dhabi’s Unique Selling Proposition

Identified the Unique Selling Proposition of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi’s USP was not pearl diving, or the desserts, or oil, but its leader Sheik Zaid, a former bedouin who ensured that ALL locals benefitted from the oil revenues. He did a great deal of good, that few people in the world knew about.

‘Stay Different’ from Dubai

Identified a tourism strategy and the positioning of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi was recommended to ‘Stay Different’ from Dubai; avoid being like Dubai; and instead, focus on the rich culture and heritage of the emirates and be a vital force for Peace – a positioning that complemented Dubai, but not competes with it. It is for this reason the logo for Abu Dhabi is more culturally-infused in the Arabic language, completely different from the loud and garish Dubai.

Tourism for Locals First

Another recommendation was to build tourism facilities, not just for foreigners, but develop recreation facilities for locals to enjoy the wealth of culture and heritage of their land.

Developed a City Icon

It was also recommended that Abu Dhabi take its proper role as the capital of the emirates and emulate other capital cities (e.g. the statue of Liberty, New York or the Eiffel Tower, Paris) by developing its own icon that represents the country – a building with 11 stories, out to sea, celebrating the life and times of its amazing leader Sheik Zayed.

Identified 12 Investment Projects

Identified and assessed 12 tourism investment projects Dhabi’s tourism projects for suitable readiness for the international markets.

Established the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority

Prepared the groundwork and developed the proposal for the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, complete with organisational structure, functions and budgets. It was recommended that the functions of Marketing and Product Development be housed under a separate Tourism Authority supervised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. In this way, the Tourism Authority could act autonomously and be able to attract the high-level talent needed to put Abu Dhabi on the tourism map.

A Roadmap to Take Tourism to New Heights

A detailed implementation framework and action plan was also developed to clearly identify what was needed to be done, by whom, by when and what resources were required to ensure successful implementation and transparency.

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