Founded in 2011, Miral is responsible for the design, development and management of leisure, entertainment and cultural destinations and experiences in Abu Dhabi. The group is also creating land banks on Yas Island and across the emirate to house communities with year-round leisure and entertainment amenities.
As part of a recent rebrand in 2022, Miral renamed its three subsidiaries. Miral Experiences (formerly known as Farah Experiences) operates a portfolio of experiences. Miral Destinations, previously called Experience Hub, promotes destinations. Yas Asset Management, formerly Miral Asset Management, operates and manages support facilities and attractions on Yas Island.
At the same time, the group revealed a portfolio of projects under construction worth more than AED 13 billion ($3.4bn) on Yas Island and across Abu Dhabi. Read on to find out all about Miral’s existing and upcoming developments.
Yas Island, located a 10-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport, is the region’s top entertainment and leisure destination. It is home to unique attractions and theme parks, such as SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.
The island is also home to Yas Bay Waterfront, Clymb Abu Dhabi, the Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, 10 hotels with more than 3,500 rooms, a golf course, a beach and a shopping mall. Its chief island officer is Aquaman and Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa.
Miral CEO Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi told blooloop:
“Our focus is to develop Yas Island as one of the top family entertainment and leisure destinations in the world. We are gradually increasing the number of attraction facilities on the island and raising its profile worldwide. Year after year, we have been striving to push the envelope and to deliver something unique and new.”
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Opened in 2010, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi on Yas Island is the Middle East’s leading theme park and the first-ever Ferrari-branded indoor theme park. It is home to rides such as Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest coaster, and Flying Aces, a dynamic coaster with one of the tallest loops in the world.
Last year, the park opened Mission Ferrari, which is part roller coaster, part dark ride. “As the world’s most immersive mega-coaster, the ride is equipped with the latest technological advancements in the industry. Mission Ferrari is our most advanced ride yet and bringing it to life has been our proudest moment,” said Ferrari World Abu Dhabi’s general manager Deana Taylor.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
Spread across 37 acres of land, Yas Waterworld offers more than 40 rides, waterslides and experiences at various thrill levels. Designed to celebrate the UAE’s pearl-diving past, the park features the world’s largest surfable sheet wave, and the region’s first and only 5D water adventure. Yas Waterworld opened in 2013.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
The first Warner Bros.-branded indoor theme park in the world, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, opened in 2018. It has 29 thrill rides, family-friendly attractions and live entertainment across 1.65 million square feet and six immersive lands. Warner Bros. World is the largest indoor theme park in the world, according to Guinness World Records.
Miral is now developing a new Harry Potter-themed land for Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Miral, said the group is “excited to be bringing this spellbinding first to the Middle East and the world in the future”.
Pam Lifford, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, added: “Together with our lands at Universal parks, this will add a wholly new and spectacular destination for fans to immerse themselves in.”
In an interview with blooloop, Al Zaabi said: “I don’t want to compete with others, but I think, in terms of what we do at Miral, this will be the next level of our projects. I always tell my team that every time we should deliver something better than before, and that is what we have done with Warner Bros. World, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld. It will certainly be a very immersive experience. I’d love to see new types of rides; I’d love to see more thrill rides. I want to push more.”
In 2021, Miral and Warner Bros. opened the world’s first Warner Bros. hotel, called The WB Abu Dhabi. Located next to Warner Bros. World, the hotel features a vast collection of Warner Bros. archives, including images and props from the studio’s films and TV shows.
Saraya Aqaba Waterpark
Outside of Abu Dhabi, Miral operates Saraya Aqaba Waterpark. The park opened in July 2021 as Aqaba’s first world-class water park and the largest water park in Jordan. The facility has more than 25 rides, slides and experiences across more than 28,500 square metres. Inspired by Jordan’s iconic landmarks, highlights include Dead Sea Drop, Wadi Rum Race and Aqua Jerash. Saraya Aqaba was developed by Eagle Hills.
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, the region’s first marine life theme park, opened to the public on Yas Island in May 2023. Developed by Miral in partnership with SeaWorld, the park covers five indoor levels and more than 183,000 square metres. It offers eight immersive realms with family-friendly experiences including animal encounters and presentations, entertainment, more than 15 rides and attractions, 18 dining experiences, and 13 retail outlets.
“We integrated the digital and physical together to create this immersive experience. It’s unique,” Al Zaabi told blooloop. “The minute you step in, you will say ‘wow’.”
The destination contains more than 58 million litres of water and is home to over 100,000 animals, including sharks, fish, rays, sea turtles, puffins, penguins and flamingos. There are no orcas. Each realm is designed by leading animal care specialists, scientists and engineers using cutting-edge technologies to emulate the animals’ natural environments.
Scott Ross, SeaWorld’s chairman, said the first SeaWorld location to open outside of the US “marks a significant chapter” for the company. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is “unlike anything the world has seen to date, truly representing a next-generation SeaWorld experience”, he added.
Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue
Ahead of the launch of SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, Miral opened the region’s first dedicated marine research and rescue centre next door. The facility has a rescue clinic, a veterinary hospital, more than 25 rescue and rehabilitation pools, laboratories and an aquaculture facility. It now has ambulances for marine wildlife.
“This is a cornerstone in the emirate’s journey of education and conservation, inspiring the next generation of marine scientists to learn more about Abu Dhabi’s impactful long-term vision of protecting our marine wildlife and their habitats,” said Al Mubarak.
The rescue team in the new centre helps sick, injured and orphaned marine animals in the Arabian Gulf and provide rehabilitation before returning them to their natural habitats. The research team focuses on the Arabian Gulf’s marine ecology.
“The Arabian Gulf is a unique and delicate ecosystem. We have a commitment to promoting habitat protection and ocean health initiatives, as well as conducting rescue and rehabilitation efforts to support conservation projects. Our mission is to preserve the environment and ensure the long-term survival of marine life in the region. We work towards this goal every day,” Al Zaabi told blooloop.
Saadiyat Island is a 27-square-kilometre landmark offering five-star hotels, restaurants and golf courses. It is also home to cultural attractions such as Louvre Abu Dhabi and soon teamLab Phenomena, the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and the Zayed National Museum.
“What’s coming to Saadiyat will make it another great destination. Where Yas Island has leading entertainment, Saadiyat will have leading culture. It will have the Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim, the Natural History Museum and teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi all in one street. You can literally walk from one museum to another,” said Al Zaabi.
teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi
As above, Japanese art collective teamLab is launching a venue for digital art on Saadiyat Island in collaboration with DCT Abu Dhabi and Miral. Due to open in 2024, teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi will feature art installations that are unique to the emirate and will use “cutting-edge immersive technology to interpret environmental phenomena”, said Al Zaabi. It will be a “curated experiential space that influences the incredible architecture around it”.
“Sitting at the intersection of art, technology, nature and high-tech fantasy, teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi will offer a world of boundless wonder and creativity to all who visit, encouraging the new perspectives that are so essential to a thriving future,” said Al Mubarak.
Visitors at teamLab Phenomena Abu Dhabi “will be immersed into a world that organically changes and evolves through the participation and actions of the people in it”, said teamLab founder Toshiyuki Inoko.
Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi
Miral has also teamed up with DCT Abu Dhabi to develop the new Natural History Museum on Saadiyat Island. This is set to be completed in 2025. Visitors will go on a 14-billion-year journey through time and space, viewing some of the rarest specimens on the planet. The new museum’s centrepiece will be a $32 million Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.
“When completed, Saadiyat will offer the highest concentration of cultural experiences in the world, cementing Abu Dhabi’s position as an innovative global destination of choice,” said Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, undersecretary at DCT Abu Dhabi.
The Natural History Museum “will provide visitors with an enriching cultural experience to help position Saadiyat as the destination of choice and Abu Dhabi as a centre for culture, arts, and creativity,” said Al Zaabi.
Yas Island is now also available as a virtual world in Roblox. This enables users from across the globe to explore the site’s leisure and entertainment experiences.
“This immersive adventure in the virtual realm is the latest example of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to utilising innovation and creativity to reach ever wider audiences,” said Saeed Al Fazari, strategic affairs executive director at DCT Abu Dhabi.
Via avatars, users can explore the 25-square-kilometre site, build cultural and entertainment attractions, socialise, play and transact. Taghrid Alsaeed, executive director of group communications and destination marketing at Miral, said:
“The launch of Yas Island’s digital experience is an exciting step in Miral’s commitment to digital transformation, harnessing advanced technology to deliver highly personalized and memorable experiences.”
In 2023, Miral announced a partnership with Microsoft to launch a new generative AI service to enhance the visitor experience at Yas Island’s theme parks and attractions. The service was created to provide personalised help and information for visitors. It uses ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, through Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service. “We champion innovation at every step and believe that digital transformation is key to creating more compelling and personalized visitor propositions,” said Al Zaabi.
In 2021, Miral transformed Yas Island into a contactless destination through its new FacePass facial recognition technology. FacePass went on to win first place in the technology category at the first-ever blooloop Innovation Awards.
Sustainability at Miral
Sustainability was a crucial consideration during the development of SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. One example is the collaboration between Miral, Masdar and EDF through their joint venture, Emerge.
“Emerge is responsible for setting up a rooftop solar power project at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. This project will use rooftop solar photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of 8.2 megawatts, making the park more energy-efficient and reducing its carbon footprint,” Al Zaabi said. “This initiative shows SeaWorld Abu Dhabi’s commitment to environmental responsibility. It positions the park as a leading example of sustainable development within the entertainment industry.”
Niall Murphy, senior manager MEP at Miral, said: “Sustainability isn’t just about energy usage. It isn’t just about reducing our carbon footprint. It’s also about education. And Miral’s partnership with SeaWorld as an IP holder is really one of those instances where education runs throughout the whole story of a theme park.”
Miral also uses renewable energy at Warner Bros. World via Abu Dhabi’s largest rooftop solar photovoltaic project. “Sustainability is high on our agenda and with Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi recognized as the world’s largest indoor theme park, it is the ideal location for a project of this scale,” said Al Zaabi in 2019.
What’s next for Miral?
Al Mubarak said the next 10 years “is set to be marked with accomplishments of great magnitude, that reflect a renewed promise through integrated destinations, underscored by a relentless commitment to evolving the capital’s tourism ecosystem and growth”.
“Ferrari World started with 19 rides, and today we have 43 rides. With that same philosophy, with the same direction, we’ll keep developing all our other attractions as well, including Warner Bros. World, SeaWorld, and Yas Waterworld. We never stop working and improving,” Al Zaabi said.
In an article for blooloop, Al Zaabi wrote:
“Looking ahead, I feel confident that Miral will continue to strengthen Abu Dhabi’s position as a leading international tourist hub while building memorable experiences that make our guests want to visit us time and time again. And in doing so, our relentless pursuit of the perfectly tailored guest experience will never end.”
Images courtesy of Miral