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Eye of Riyadh
Eye of Riyadh
Business & Money | Sunday 30 August, 2020 6:11 pm |

Abu Dhabi Creates ‘Safe Zone’ Framework for Events and Tourists Inspired by the Success of UFC Fight IslandTM

The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) is celebrating the successful delivery of UFC Fight IslandTM, establishing the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as an ideal destination and global partner to high-profile events. UFC Fight IslandTM featured the creation of a world-class ‘safe zone’ for approximately 2,500 people over five weeks on Yas Island as well as one of UFC’s most watched fight nights of all time.


UFC Fight IslandTM occupied an 11km stretch of the island - the ‘safe zone’ - which was locked off and completely secluded from the rest of the Emirate for the five-week period. UFC personnel from 35 nations, event staff and Yas Island employees were housed for the entire duration of the event in some of Abu Dhabi’s prime hotels, surrounded by top entertainment attractions.


In line with the principles of the “Go Safe” certification programme, led by DCT Abu Dhabi and endorsed by the Abu Dhabi government, the health and safety procedures undertaken by event staff were extensive and included COVID-19 testing every 72hrs and 14-day isolation periods. These strict measures helped achieve a COVID-free sanctuary, with the added benefits of world-class hospitality, including luxury hotels and entertainment facilities, all within the ‘protected bubble’.


The ‘safe zone’ included Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Links Golf Course, Yas Beach, and the Flash Forum, a multi-purpose indoor venue where the fights were staged. DCT Abu Dhabi now plans to evolve this concept for the return of tourism and other events in the coming months, including the scheduled annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of 2020, which will take place within the current ‘safe zone’ perimeter. 


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 multi-purpose indoor arena with a seating capacity of 18,000. In central Abu Dhabi, Zayed Sports City also houses a football stadium, tennis arena and numerous hotels, with a nearby cricket stadium. These venues can be utilised 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™.


“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. We would like to thank our partners, the Department of Health, Abu Dhabi Police, the Department of Municipalities and Transport, Aldar Properties, Miral Asset Management, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, and Etihad Airways who made the success of this concept possible,” said HE Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, Executive Director of Tourism and Marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi. “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.”


Expressing his gratitude to DCT Abu Dhabi, Dana White, UFC President, said: “I would like to thank the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, for their valued partnership and for the hard work and effort in making this possible. Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island was one of the most incredible experiences of my 30 years in the business. We look forward to coming back to Abu Dhabi.”


The success of the UFC Fight IslandTM has proven Abu Dhabi’s ability to organise and safely manage large-scale global events, by adhering to the highest standards of safety and delivery. This established the Emirate as an aspirational destination and ideal global partner for high-profile events, including sports, entertainment and cultural events.

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