Abu Dhabi creates 'safe zone' for events

A Covid-free bubble on Yas Island was created to host UFC Fight Island, welcoming 2,500 people over five weeks.

Looking to the future, Abu Dhabi has plans to create similar event ‘safe zones’ for upcoming events such as the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, scheduled for end 2020.
Looking to the future, Abu Dhabi has plans to create similar event ‘safe zones’ for upcoming events such as the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, scheduled for end 2020. Photo Credit: The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

The UAE successfully hosted its first large-scale event, UFC Fight Island, which welcomed 2,500 people into a Covid-19-free bubble over five weeks, paving the way for the return of events in coming months, including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December.

Overseen by The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the high-profile event blocked out 11km on the manmade Yas Island to form a ‘safe zone’ – locking off thousands who had gathered to watch the fights and keeping them separated from the rest of the Emirate.

Safe within this zone, the high-profile event went on across the 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.

Over these five weeks, health and safety procedures under the state’s “Go Safe” certification programme were also strictly undertaken, including Covid-19 testing every 72hrs and 14-day isolation periods. In this Covid-free bubble, all involved UFC personnel from 35 nations, event and island staff were put up in prime hotels, surrounded by top entertainment options – making it possible to carry forward the event while keeping everyone safe.

“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,” said Ali Hassan Al Shaiba, executive director of tourism and marketing at DCT Abu Dhabi.

Calling UFC Fight Island “one of the most incredible experiences of my 30 years in the business,” Dana White, UFC President said: “We came up with the idea of having fights on ‘Fight Island’ because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic.

Looking to the future, Abu Dhabi has plans to create similar event ‘safe zones’, which include the du Arena, an 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.

Upcoming events to test this ‘safe zone’ concept include the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of 2020, which will take place within the current ‘safe zone’ perimeter on Yas Island.

“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," Al Shaiba added. "The lessons we have learned from this event will be carried forward as we continue to create new engaging experiences in a post-Covid world, but at the same time take lessons we can use in other areas of events and tourism.”



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