The largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Abu Dhabi has 200 islands to its name, but in 2023 it’s due to add one more - if you include digital islands that is.
Next year, Abu Dhabi is set to launch a Metaverse version of its famous entertainment capital, Yas Island.
The emirate’s leisure district is home to theme parks, an F1 circuit, shopping malls and aquariums, but in a bid to make the island accessible to a global audience, it’s going digital.
What is the Metaverse?
Metaverses offer users an immerse digital experience in a virtual world. There are hundreds of metaverses currently in development, with companies such as Roblox, Meta and Epic Games developing their own platforms.
For a fully immersive experience, you can access the Metaverse by wearing a VR headset, or you can also enter some VR worlds via your PC or laptop.
What is on offer on the virtual Yas Island?
The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) have joined forces with a number of businesses and tech platforms, including Flash Entertainment, Miral, Abu Dhabi Motorsport, and Roblox, to transform the 25 square kilometre island into a digital space. Once online, users will be able to meet up, play games and explore the island.
“We are proud to announce that people from every corner of the globe will soon be able to enjoy captivating and immersive experiences across Yas Island in the digital world”, Mohammed Abdalla Al Zaabi, CEO of Miral, said.
“Spearheading the leisure and entertainment industry, we have collaborated with key entities to offer visitors a new way to explore and discover all that Yas Island has to offer, from world-class theme parks to attending global events”.
Visitors will also be able to build virtual homes and visit the theme parks on offer. Attractions include the world’s fastest rollercoaster in Ferrari World and the chance to zoom around the F1 racetrack.
The digital island is currently in the development phase, but is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.
“Innovation is central to DCT Abu Dhabi’s commitment to be at the forefront of what is possible”, His Excellency Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Undersecretary at DCT Abu Dhabi, said.
“With the Yas Island metaverse, we are inviting the world to experience the excitement of Abu Dhabi’s incredible leisure and entertainment destination - virtually - like never before. As the emirate’s offerings evolve, this project provides a new and compelling perspective which allows the world to discover Abu Dhabi in its own time and space. The innovative, interactive platform is perfect for highlighting the exceptional lifestyle, cultural and entertainment experiences that Abu Dhabi presents to all visitors and will give both virtual residents and travellers the power to curate their own unique Abu Dhabi itinerary – within a whole new sphere of reality”.
What can I do in Yas Island IRL?
If the virtual world isn’t for you, why not pay a visit to Yas Island in real life? The man-made island began construction in 2006 and has since become a hub for thrill seeking tourists.
In Ferrari World you’ll also find the world’s tallest rollercoaster loop, zero-G drops and a range of more child-friendly rides for younger children.
While over at Yas Waterworld, you can hop aboard a looping freefall waterslide or the region’s longest suspended roller coaster. You can even have a go at pearl diving in a purpose built tank, or practise bodyboarding in the endless wave pool.
Places to eat in Yas Island
After all that adventure, you’ll need something to eat. Luckily for you, it seems like practically every cuisine under the sun is available here. Head to Angar for modern Indian cuisine, or pay a visit to Cipriani, the island’s top Italian restaurant. Dishes include Vanilla Meringue Cake and Risotto “alla Primavera”.
Or if you fancy something a bit more casual, make your way to Emmy Squared, for an eye-catching square pizza.
Sports to enjoy on Yas Island
Yas Island is also making a name for itself as a major sports destination. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be hosted here on 20 November, at the island’s Yas Marina Circuit, and if you happen to be there during the World Cup, there’s a zone for football fans too.
For something completely different though, make sure to pay a visit to Clymb Abu Dhabi. The centre is home to the world’s widest indoor skydiving flight chamber and the region’s tallest indoor climbing wall.
The indoor skydiving chamber will take you a whopping 34 metres into the air, while the climbing wall gives you the chance to ascend nearly 40 metres.
And as if that wasn’t enough, of course there’s an epic golf course too. Yas Links Abu Dhabi offers golfers amazing views out over the Arabian Gulf as they traverse the 18-hole championship course. If 18 holes is a bit much for you, there’s a 9-hole option too.
And if you’re not quite ready for the real thing, wait until 2023 and see if you can play a round in the Metaverse.