Miral: Championing Abu Dhabi’s tourism aspirations with group CEO Mohamed Al Zaabi

The company is behind the innovative and immersive experiences on Yas and Saadiyat Islands
Miral: Championing Abu Dhabi’s tourism aspirations with group CEO Mohamed Al Zaabi
Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi is the Group CEO of Miral.

Abu Dhabi is a force to be reckoned with in the world of tourism. Apart from its vibrant culture and deeply rooted heritage, it is home to several notable leisure and entertainment destinations. The company behind many of these tourist attractions is Miral — a real estate development, management and investment company that touts itself as “Abu Dhabi’s leading creator of immersive destinations and experiences.”

By 2030, the UAE capital aims to increase the tourism and travel sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to AED 90 billion annually. And Miral is one of the most important entities that will help the nation achieve this goal.

In this exclusive interview with Economy Middle East, Group CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi discusses Miral’s recent milestones and upcoming plans. He emphasizes the importance of collaboration in pulling off year-long events. He also delves into Abu Dhabi’s appeal as a leading name in meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism.

After the tremendous success of the Yas Island destinations, what new projects do you have in mind in the UAE?

2023 was a phenomenal year of growth for Yas Island and Saadiyat Island, with both boasting record-breaking achievements. Yas Island recorded over 34 million visits in 2023, a 38 percent increase compared to 2022, while Saadiyat Island saw a 44 percent visitation growth compared to the previous year.

In addition, both destinations collectively earned more than 170 regional and international accolades throughout 2023, strengthening their standing as premier hubs of excellence and innovation.

This year, several new developments are in the pipeline on Yas Island and Saadiyat Island as we continue to position both destinations as key tourism drivers that contribute to Abu Dhabi’s wider vision.

A 16,900 sqm expansion at Yas Waterworld Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, is underway and scheduled for completion in 2025. The expansion will increase guest capacity by 20 percent and add 18 new thrilling rides and attractions.

Fans of the Harry Potter franchise can look forward to a new entertainment experience at Warner Bros. World™ Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, as the first-ever Wizarding World of Harry Potter is set to open its doors in the Middle East.

In addition, the 560-meter Yas Bay Beach development will further add to the existing lifestyle and leisure experience at Yas Bay Waterfront.

We are also enhancing our leisure and cultural offering on the award-winning Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi).

teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi will be an immersive, multi-sensory art experience that enables visitors to ignite their curiosity, imagination, and creativity through constantly transforming artistic installations. It is set for completion this year.

In addition, the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi is also making steady construction progress with 65 percent development completion as of March 2024 and is anticipated to be the largest of its kind in the region.


Will we see Miral offer their experiences in other countries in the MENA region as well?

For nearly 13 years now, Miral has been transforming the entertainment and leisure sector in the region. It has been pivotal in enhancing Abu Dhabi’s global appeal as a leading tourism hub with unique and world-class offerings. Aligned with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, our core vision is driven by a commitment to Abu Dhabi’s growth.

Through our transformative and innovative projects, Miral aims to continue contributing to Abu Dhabi’s long-term development as a sustainable, diversified and globally integrated economy. To achieve this and cement the Emirate’s position as a tourism hub, we are working with strategic partners, investors, stakeholders and global brands from around the world.

Apart from destinations, events form a major part of Miral’s offering. What challenges do you face when organizing such a rich roster of year-long events that includes the best performers from all over the world?

It is no secret that organizing mega events throughout the year is a complex undertaking. It involves meticulous planning, coordination, and execution. We work hard with our partner DCT Abu Dhabi and event organizers to ensure the production of a world-class show.

Conducting events of the size and scale that we undertake involves diverse stakeholders and key partnerships. These are critical to ensuring success while realizing our vision of positioning Yas Island as a leading leisure and entertainment destination. These long-standing partnerships with global intellectual property holders enable us to bring world-class events like The Lion King,  Hamilton, Disney on Ice and other globally renowned events to Yas Island.

Our partnership with the Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition Bureau has also strengthened Abu Dhabi’s unique position as a leading destination of choice for both business and leisure. This partnership led to the creation of the Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition Bureau and Miral Joint Business Event Fund. It synergizes efforts with industry partners across different sectors and creates a compelling proposition to attract corporate clients and support larger meetings and inbound incentive groups to the emirate.

With its world-class facilities and amenities, Yas Island is a destination that embraces the best of both worlds — business and leisure. It supports all the factors required to make any event a success: accessibility, choice of accommodations, venue capacity, meeting spaces, F&B, world-class theme parks, attractions, shopping, golf and more.

Yas Island’s competitiveness as a MICE destination is further boosted by the financial incentives offered to organizers across the destination. 2023 was a record year for business events on Yas Island, surpassing attendance expectations by an impressive 87 percent. We also welcomed 23 MICE groups, a 77 percent rise compared to the previous year, with total related spending increasing by 62 percent compared to 2022.


Abu Dhabi hosts the season-ending Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s also home to UFC. What other global sports events can we expect in Abu Dhabi?

The sports industry in the Middle East is set to grow 8.7 percent by 2026, compared with 3.3 percent globally. And sporting events are key to driving Abu Dhabi’s ambitious tourism strategy.

We are committed to working with our partners, the DCT Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Ethara and others to host an impressive line-up of world-class sporting events throughout the year on Yas Island as we continue to position it as a global sporting hub. These include F1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, UFC Abu Dhabi, as well as the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, World Triathlon Championship Series, World Tennis League and FINA World Swimming Championship, among others.

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