A new cultural landmark is in the works for Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Etihad Arena will be the first multipurpose built arena in the city designed to accommodate a wide variety of sports and entertainment events.
The facility’s dynamic form and illuminated lantern facade is intended to both complement and animate the expanding waterfront promenade at Yas Bay.
HOK is part of the WSP-led team responsible for delivering the design of Etihad Arena, with support from Pascall+Watson. The team was engaged by Miral Asset Management, the entity responsible for the development of the broad southern part of Yas Island. In addition to the architectural design of Etihad Arena, HOK designed the adjacent arena retail and dining destination along the boardwalk, forming a mixed-use anchor on the east end of Yas Bay.
“Our goal is to create an exceptional entertainment experience for fans and spectators,” said John Rhodes, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice. “Etihad Arena will be the centerpiece of the development and serve as a destination on Yas Island.”
HOK designed Etihad Arena to create an intimate, highly flexible and efficient venue with excellent acoustics that can be used year-round for a variety of sport and entertainment events.
“Our team knew the building needed to be smart, adaptable and technologically-advanced in order to efficiently transform for the wide variety of events the client wished to host,” added Rhodes. “This transformability will make Etihad Arena one of the most sophisticated arenas in the world.”
The arena is designed to expand from an intimate 500-seat theater to an 18,000-capacity venue, maximizing revenue and supporting a wide variety of events. This focus on flexibility carries over to premium and back-of-house spaces. The arena is designed to adapt to create the ideal user experience for a diverse set of events, including community gatherings, concerts, performances, sporting events, and meetings and conventions. Premium spaces include a VIP lounge that can be transformed into a grand ballroom for events, hospitality boxes and unique terrace bars for receptions and parties.
Additional amenities, including food and beverage, will be located adjacent to the arena to create a linear street that stretches down the waterfront promenade. This outdoor concourse will create a festival-like atmosphere to generate year-round activity. The outdoor concourse will provide connectivity to the surrounding district on Yas Bay.
“The development of the UAE’s first 18,000 capacity-arena will place Yas Island among the leaders for performance and events venues,” said Jonathan Brown, development director of Miral Asset Management. “We’re proud to set a new benchmark in the industry as we provide visitors with even bigger and better events to enjoy—all of which will perfectly showcase Yas Island’s excellence and energy.”
Yas Island is a new multipurpose leisure, shopping and entertainment destination that includes a hotel cluster, the Yas Marina F1 circuit and a growing number of theme parks. Etihad Arena will be located directly on the waterfront and serve as an anchor for the promenade that will feature more than 50 cafes and restaurants, 20 retail outlets, a recreational pier, two hotels and a beach club.
Editor’s note: Etihad Arena was previously named Yas Arena.