Plans are underway for a new sports and entertainment venue in Abu Dhabi’s culturally posh Yas Island.

Yas Arena is the first of its kind in the city created to host a variety of live events. Design plans include an “illuminated lantern facade” to compliment existing plans to expand a waterfront promenade at nearby Yas Bay, according to a statement by HOK, the St. Louis-based architecture firm charged with designing the project.

Yas Island is in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf.

“Our goal is to create an exceptional entertainment experience for fans and spectators,” said John Rhodes, a director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment division. “Yas Arena will be the centerpiece of the development and serve as a destination on Yas Island.”

HOK, a firm that designs venues around the world, is creating a venue that representatives say will have quality acoustics that can be used year-round. The company is part of a team led by WSP with support from Pascall+Watson. Miral Asset Management, the entity responsible for the development of the broad southern part of Yas Island, hired the three. HOK designed the adjacent arena retail and dining destination along the boardwalk, forming a mixed-use anchor on the east end of Yas Bay.

The arena will be able to expand from an intimate 500-seat theater to an 18,000-capacity venue, which HOK says will maximize revenue and support a range of events, including community gatherings, concerts, performances, sporting events and meetings and conventions. Premium patrons can check out a VIP lounge that can be transformed into a grand ballroom for events, hospitality boxes and unique terrace bars for receptions and parties. 

“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,” Rhodes said. “This transformability will make Yas Arena one of the most sophisticated arenas in the world.”

Food and drinks will be located adjacent to the arena to create a linear street that stretches down the waterfront promenade, the HOK statement said. This outdoor concourse and festival-like atmosphere will generate year-round activity and connect visitors to the Yas Bay district.

“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 vivacity.”

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. Yas 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.

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She's covered everything from from crime to politics to fitness. Writing about bands and shows takes her back to the days of going to punk rock shows in the Midwest.
Maggie O'Brien