Recently revealed as the host destination for ABTA 2016, Abu Dhabi has gained significant attention from the trade for its cruising developments and cultural highlights.

Confirmed at the stand this week was an opening date of December 13 for its new cruise terminal which is expected to welcome 220,000 passengers from 113 ship calls.

MSC Cruises will be the first cruise line to make the new terminal its home with the ‘Musica’ offering two 16-week long sailings into the Arabian Gulf this December and in March next year. From November 2016, Celebrity Cruises will also make the destination its homeport, beginning with nine 14-night sailings through to January 2017. The news opens Abu Dhabi up as a potential pre- or post-cruise holiday destination for clients and will position the region as a strong winter sun destination.

Strong attention was drawn to the destination's culturally traditional offerings, with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque recently voted number four in the world’s ten must-visit landmarks by TripAdvisor travellers, along with pearl diving experiences and the city of Al Ain, one of the world’s oldest permanently inhabited settlements with seven UNESCO heritage sites.

In hand with this is the news that the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is underway. A firm opening date has yet to be announced but installations will include art local to the region and from across the globe, including works by Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh. Next year will also see a strong focus on regional tourism throughout the destination.

Agents can look forward to an online training platform to be launched in the near future and, following the success of this year’s 50 agent-strong mega fam trip, the possibility of another down the line.

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