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Yas Island (Abu Dhabi, UAE)


Page update - Oct 19, 2022

The man-made Yas Island is now the main tourist area of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. A place of record-high concentration of amusement parks, stores, and luxury residential properties. It is also home to the Yas Marina Circuit which hosts the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Note! Yas Island is now (October 2022) open for tourists. All amusement parks, hotels, and the race track are open. Starting February 28, 2022, travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is free, meaning no more tests or vaccinations are required. Starting February 26, 2022, no more masks are required to be worn outdoors. Starting September 28, 2022, masks are no longer required to be worn in stores and malls, hotels, cafes and restaurants.

The Yas Island project cost the emirate USD 40 billion to build the infrastructure and facilities. The total area of the island is 6,200 acres (2,500 hectares). Of which 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares) have been allocated for the construction of facilities. Yas Island was awarded the World Travel Awards as the best tourist project in the world.

On this page, we will tell you all the most important and interesting things about Yas Island - hotels, amusement parks, stores, restaurants, beaches, how to get there.

History in brief

The idea to build an area for tourist and entertainment facilities in Abu Dhabi was discussed back in the 90s. The final decision to create such a district was made in 2006.

The island was created for such a district. The authorities of Abu Dhabi didn't start to pour the island from the sand as it was done in the Emirate of Dubai. There are more than 400 natural islands around the city of Abu Dhabi. Why waste money to create another one?

Abu Dhabi did something more pragmatic - they dug channels and separated the land from the mainland. Thus Yas Island was formed, which thus got the loud status of "man-made". A magnificent marketing ploy, one can only applaud.



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Aldar Properties, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, was (and still is) in charge of the project. In 2011, another company, Miral Asset Management, a state organization responsible for, and we quote, "The construction and management of facilities that add value to the Emirate of Abu Dhabi" began to deal with the island.

The project was divided into three phases until 2018. But now phase 4 is on its way and there will be another phase 5. Not all of the area is built out, and the Arabs want to "squeeze" maximum profit out of Yas Island.

The main contractors of Aldar Properties in the construction of Yas Island facilities were Drake & Scull International, Belhasa Six Construct, and Depa Interiors.

Depa Interiors is very famous. They create interiors for almost every significant building in the UAE. The list of sites on which they have worked is very impressive: the Burj Khalifa tower, Emirates Palace and Burj Al-Arab hotels, Dubai Metro stations, Dubai Opera House, the expensive boutiques of the Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates, Dubai Airport terminals and a long list of luxury hotels in the United Arab Emirates.

In September 2007, contracts were signed for the construction of the Yas Marina Circuit, and construction work began. In November 2007 the foundation stone of Ferrari World Park was laid.

In November 2009, the track was already built and the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held. The winner was Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull team. See the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

In November 2010, Ferrari World Park welcomed its first visitors. In March 2010, the Yas Links golf course opened.

In January 2013, Yas WaterWorld Water Park opened (pictured near, click to enlarge).

In November 2014, Yas Mall, the second largest mall in the UAE, opened.

In April 2016, Miral Asset Management confirmed a plan to build a Warner Bros. theme park. The park is scheduled to open in 2018.

In July 2018, Warner Bros. theme park welcomed its first visitors.

In November 2020, the huge CLYMB sports and entertainment complex opened.

The Yas Bay waterfront is already open, but not all of the restaurants and hotels there are open at this time (October 2022).

Another interesting facility is on the way - the SeaWorld oceanarium. It will open in 2023.

Interesting facts and unreal figures

The official website of Yas Island states that in 2015 the island was visited by 25 million people. And in 2020 it was planned to have 30 million visitors, but apparently this plan did not work because of the coronavirus.

Such figures are hard to believe.

The UAE population in 2015 was estimated at 9 million people, most of whom are Indian and Pakistani workers who have no money for entertainment and are not expected to. Read more in our review "Population of the United Arab Emirates".

A total of 17 million tourists visited the UAE in 2015, and most came not in Abu Dhabi, but in the Emirate of Dubai.



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How did they count 25 million visitors to Yas Island? It is unclear. And it is unclear how they counted these visitors? After all, the entry to the island is free, no tickets are sold, and visitors are not registered. Maybe they counted one person a few times? But in this case any employee working on the island counts as 250 visitors.

Most likely, the 25 million figure is another marketing ploy from Aldar Properties.

The plan is to have 100,000 permanent residents on Yas Island by 2030. This figure can be believed, the construction of residential real estate is very active. We will talk about houses and villas later in this review.

Yas Island logo

Start JG Co. won the competition to design the project's logo. The author of the logo was the artist Pavel Nolbert, known for his work with the brands: Nike, Johnny Walker, New Republic, Android Wallpaper, Sony Playstation. The logo was created using acrylic paint and 4D modeling.

See the result in the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge. The author describes the logo as, "Full of movement and color for a brand full of life". Unfortunately, it is unknown how much Sheikhs paid Nolbert for this work, a trade secret.

Yas Island hotels

You can find on the Internet pages with the titles like "Top 10 hotels on Yas Island" or "10 most expensive hotels on Yas Island". Such titles are a laughing matter, because there are only 9 hotels (including the newly opened Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island 5* on the Yas Bay waterfront).

The most famous hotel is W Abu Dhabi (aka Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi). This luxury hotel 5 stars was the first and so far the only one, located above the Formula 1 track.

Another 6 hotels are in the Yas Plaza area in the south of the island. These hotels are Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Rotana Yas Island, Centro Yas Island, Park Inn Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island.

Vacation in these hotels has pros and cons. The main disadvantage is the remoteness from the beach as you have to walk about 10 minutes. The beach is shared by all the hotels and usually crowded. The main advantage is quick access to all the facilities and stores.

Another hotel is located in the new Yas Bay area. This is the Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island 5* - a chic "five" priced from USD 200 per night.

Another hotel, The WB Abu Dhabi Curio Collection, is located in the center of the island, right next to Warner Bros. Park.



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How to get to and transport on Yas Island

There are free Yas Express buses for visitors to Yas Island. These buses pass through the Yas Plaza (where the hotels are) and take a circular route to all the major attractions. Buses run from 9 am to midnight. For a view of the Yas Express Buses see the picture below, click on the picture to enlarge.

In mid-2022, the Yas Island Authority has once again completely redesigned the Yas Express route grid. The routes are now as follows:

The Y1 route runs between: the Hilton Hotel, the W Hotel (Yas Marina track), Yas Plaza (where the hotels are), Yas Beach, Yas Mall, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. Parks, Ferrari. Runs every 15 minutes.

The Y3 route follows a similar route, but stops a little differently, stops at different locations, and stops at Yas Links. It runs every hour.

The Y4 route runs between Masdar City (a suburb of Abu Dhabi) and Yas Island facilities. Runs every 2 hours.

The Y5 route runs between residential areas on Yas Island and entertainment venues. It is not useful for tourists.

The Y6 route from/to Dubai (City Centre Deira). From Dubai, there is one run at 11 am. Return trip is at 8 pm. To get on this bus you will need a pre-purchased online ticket for one of the parks.

The Y7 route from/to Dubai (Mall of the Emirates). From Dubai, there is one run at 11 am. Return trip is at 7-30 pm. To get on this bus you need to show a pre-purchased online ticket for one of the parks.

The Y9 route from/to the airport runs every 1 hour 15 minutes from 5-00 am to 11-15 am and from 6-00 pm to 0-15 am. To board this bus, you must present proof of reservation for any hotel on Yas Island.

Download the full list and timetables of Yas Express.

Within Yas Island, it is convenient to travel by bicycle. There are about a dozen ADCB Bikeshare rentals scattered around the island. Payment and deposit are made by credit card, and the terminals display information in Arabic and English.

The most convenient way to get around is by cab. The ride within the island costs from 12 to 20 dirhams. A cab ride from Corniche Promenade is available for 70 dirhams. For the current exchange rates of the UAE dirham see our page "Money in the UAE". For more information on prices, read our review "Taxi prices in the UAE".

From the city center of Abu Dhabi you can arrive by bus. The bus fare is 4 UAE dirhams. Recently (in 2019-2020) there were big changes in the routes, and now buses 180 and 190 no longer run.

Bus 102 now goes to Yas Island. If this bus does not stop near your hotel, go to Zayed Sports City or Al Wahda Bus Station (central) where you can take the 102 bus.

The main attractions

The Ferrari World park is the highlight of the entertainment program on Yas Island. It is a huge indoor amusement park. The world's fastest roller coaster, Ferrari car museum and several dozens of other attractions await tourists there. See the photo near, click to enlarge.

Read our detailed pages "Ferrari World", "Formula Rossa", and "Ferrari Museum in Abu Dhabi".

Yas WaterWorld is one of the most interesting water parks in the United Arab Emirates. It boasts a rare attraction - a water roller coaster, a large children's area, a real pearl catching attraction and many other exciting attractions.

Read our review "Yas Water World".

Warner Bros. Park, after opening in 2018, has become the world's largest indoor entertainment facility, over 37 acres (15 hectares) in size. DC superheroes, Warner cartoon characters, and 29 attractions for all ages await tourists there.

Read our review "Warner Bros.".

Yas Marina Circuit, where the F1 Grand Prix is held. The race is held in November or December every year.

The track is 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) long. The longest straight on the track is 3,740 feet (1,140 meters). The track area is 400 acres (162 hectares) and the capacity is 41,000 spectators.

Yas Marina Circuit hosts not only the F1 Grand Prix, but various other races. You can ride the race cars for a fee or take racing lessons. Or you can take a free bike ride around the track.

Read our review "Yas Marina Circus".

Yas Links Golf Club. The course was designed by renowned architect Kyle Phillips. The golf club is recognized as one of the TOP-25 courses by Golf Digest and one of the TOP-10 new international courses by Golf Magazine.

Concert venues du Arena and du Forum. The du Arena is the largest in the Middle East with a capacity of 35,000 people. The list of celebrities who performed there is long, among them Madonna, Shakira, Metallica, Justin Timberlake and other stars. Dozens of festivals are held there every year.

Shopping

Yas Mall is the second largest in the UAE. Over 400 stores. Over 100 restaurants, fast food outlets, and cafes. Unique entertainment centers for children and adults.

Read our review "Yas Mall".

IKEA Yas Island is the largest IKEA brand store in the Arab world. 355,000 square feet (33,000 square meters) of total floor space, 206,000 square feet (19,150 square meters) of retail space. Inside is a shopping exhibition, restaurant, children's play center.

ACE Hardware is a famous brand of electronics retail, originally from the US. It is not represented in most countries, so it is interesting for most tourists to see. The total area is 56,000 square feet (5,200 square meters).

Yas Island Beach

There is only one big beach on Yas Island, called Yas Island Beach, located on the south coast near the golf course and 3,300 feet (a kilometer) away from the hotels area.

It is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm and for a fee. Price - 50 dirhams for adults and 25 dirhams for children (6-18 years) during weekdays, 100 and 50 dirhams at the weekend. Children under the age of 8 get in for free. This price includes towel, sun lounger and umbrella rental.

Guests of local hotels can pass for free on vouchers, which need to be taken at the hotel reception desk.

How much is an apartment on Yas Island?

There are several apartment complexes on Yas Island.

Yas Acres area. The price is AED 3,000,000 (USD 800,000) for a 3,300 square feet (300 square meter) villa with three bedrooms.

District Mayan. A two-bedroom apartment is priced at AED 2,500,000 (USD 680,000) for 1,650 square feet (150 square meter).

The district of West Yas sells real estate only to citizens of the UAE. A foreigner does not have the right to buy a property or reside there.

District Ansam. Apartments with three bedrooms - 2,850,000 dirhams (USD 775,000) for a 2,200 square feet (200 square meter).

Residential real estate there is very expensive, even by UAE standards.

Good and important to know

- If you're going to have fun at Ferrari World, Warner Bros or Yas Waterworld, read our useful review "How to get cheaper tickets to UAE amusement parks";

- If you're going to Yas Island from Dubai, read our detailed review "How to travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi";

- If you decide to vacation on the island on your own (without a tour), read our review "How to get from Abu Dhabi Airport".

Have fun on Yas Island, and read our interesting and useful pages about the UAE (see the pages list below).

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