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Under the patronage of Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor and Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Abu Dhabi Ports - the master developer, operator and manager of ports and Khalifa Industrial Zone in the Emirate - will on Sunday officially open the new state-of-the-art cruise terminal at Zayed Port in December.

A big landmark for cruise tourism in the Arabian Gulf, the permanent cruise passenger terminal at Zayed Port, a premier regional cruise hub, will help Abu Dhabi Ports serve the increasing number of cruise liners and passengers visiting the Emirate. The flexible design of the terminal building incorporating suggestions from all major global cruise lines can accommodate any future requirements of cruise operators. This will boost Abu Dhabi s ambitions in tourism sector and further elevate its standing as a leading winter-sun cruise destination on the regional cruise tourism map.

"We have achieved a major milestone by completing this ambitious cruise terminal project within one year. This will serve Abu Dhabi’s rapidly growing cruise industry. At all stages of the project, the guidance and support of the wise leadership gave us the strength and inspiration to accomplish this astounding task," said Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports.

"This has proved the capacity of Abu Dhabi Ports to expeditiously execute major projects and initiatives for the greater common good," he added.

Zayed Port recently hosted three luxury cruise vessels at the same day. Island Sky, owned by Noble Caledonia, docked at Zayed Port as part of a 16-day voyage from Muscat in Oman to Mumbai in India. EUROPA 2, owned by Hapag-Lloyod, was on a 20-day cruise from Dubai to Mauritius. Seven Seas Voyager, owned by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, berthed at Abu Dhabi as part of their global itinerary.

Zayed Port has scheduled 111 vessel calls with 205,000 passengers from across the globe during 2015/2016 season. This will represent five-fold increase in number of passengers and ships visiting Abu Dhabi since the first cruise season during 2006-2007. This impressive growth is projected to reach more than 300,000 passengers expected on 130 scheduled ship calls by 2019-2020 season, catalysed by the new cruise terminal and the Arabian Gulf s first cruise beach stopover at Sir Bani Yas Island that has already started receiving cruise vessels.

The preparations for the cruise terminal opening are in full swing in coordination with the Abu Dhabi Ports strategic partners such as Etihad Airways, Tourism and Culture Authority-Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Customs, and Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac).

The top-class terminal building offers many passenger-friendly facilities including the tourist information services and passport border control counters to ensure smooth and timely customs process. The aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly building will celebrate the UAE’s cultural heritage and pay tribute to its long maritime history. A fusion of traditional Arabic ornaments and modern architectural elements define the building s distinctive style.  A particular eye-catcher is the building’s roof design which is a lattice-work, taking the UAE’s national tree ‘The Ghaf’ as inspiration. Wooden beams inside the building take inspiration from the UAE’s traditional dhow sailing vessels.