Yas Island – the US$40bn (€36.8bn, £32.8bn) island project in Abu Dhabi – is launching a new business strategy and brand identity to establish the development as “the world’s ultimate leisure destination.”
Miral – the company responsible for the development and management of Yas Island – has teamed with customer experience design agency Start on the project, which will paint Yas Island as a vibrant representation of an Emirati-bred, world class destination home to a multitude of leisure, cultural, social and business attractions suited for all audiences.
“The Middle East is on the cusp of ‘going global’ in terms of inbound tourism,” said Darren Whittingham, chief creative officer at Start, speaking to Attractions Management
“Not many people know about Yas Island as a destination unless you live in the region. If you do a search, Ferrari World comes out on top but we need to increase wider awareness – what is Yas, where is it? We needed to put it on the map. That’s the objective to make it a destination experience.”
Yas Island’s development first started in 2006, initiated by Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties, with the aim of turning the island into a multi-purpose leisure, shopping and entertainment centre. The investment is planned over multiple stages, opening in phases up until 2018. The project recently broke ground on a US$1bn (€919m, £820m) Warner Bros theme park
– the latest in a series of major developments to be operated by Farah Leisure, which include the already established Ferrari World
and Yas Waterworld
The rebranding of Yas Island includes its 2022 vision – to be one of the world’s top ten destinations for family fun and to attract 48 million visitors annually.
“We looked at places like Sentosa and Disney in terms of global benchmarking,” said Whittingham. “They’re building something quite different to these global attractions.
“If Sentosa owns fun and Disney owns magic then we talked about this idea of ambition. The region has great ambition and if you turn this into an everyday message, ultimately the dream idea came through and creates a really simple system through language. The uniqueness of the island isn’t just a destination for the biggest rollercoaster, the fastest car track – it's the whole experience.”
Working with Yas Island, Start was also responsible for conducting the customer experience mapping across the entire island including touchscreen information points, signage, apparel, livery and corporate communications.
The launch of the new Yas Island brand comes after its most successful summer to date, with a record 50 per cent increase in visitor numbers to 600,000 at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Waterworld.
“The island is only 25 per cent developed right now,” said Whittingham. “We’ll keep momentum going in terms of pushing awareness. Ultimately our work will progress. The big thing for us will be the delivery of the experience. More will be done in terms of things like touchscreen bus stops and other physical digital channels to engage visitors on the island and then the content that that will provide along the way.
“In term of Yas Island’s ambitions, they want to finish the build and get their own residences built. They’re going to bring in more global entertainment partners and the island’s story will grow. This is just the tip of the iceberg for them.”