Abu Dhabi’s port authority has released details of a new cruise terminal building at Zayed Port to handle the growing cruising needs of the city.

Anticipated for completion by 2016, the terminal will cover 800 square metres.

It will have the capacity to handle three cruise ships simultaneously, which means Abu Dhabi could soon be welcoming more than 7,000 cruise passengers at a time.

The new building will include key passenger facilities such as check-in and security checks. It will also have a mezzanine level with souvenir shops, restaurants, office facilities and waiting areas for cruise staff.

Traditional Arabic ornaments, colours and shapes will be combined with modern architectural elements to style the building and celebrate the UAE’s cultural heritage.

Wooden beams will be used inside the building as homage to the UAE’s traditional dhow sailing vessels.

And outside, the building’s roof will take the shape of the UAE’s national tree, the Ghaf.

Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) said investment in a new, high quality building ensures the growing cruise sector is catered for.

“Abu Dhabi’s cruise tourism has enormous potential and the development of tourism in the emirate is one of the core pillars of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a plan to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on oil and gas revenue”, he said.

Abu Dhabi’s cruise passenger arrivals have increased five-fold since the sector began in the emirate in 2007 with anticipated arrivals this season reaching 200,000 passengers from 95 vessel calls.

Last month, Abu Dhabi along with other cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced a new joint visa system that allows cruisers to visit a number of UAE destinations using one permit.

Multi-entry visas were previously only available to visitors who arrived and left the UAE in a cruise ship.

However, travellers can now fly into Dubai Airport, hop on a cruise ship from Mina Rashid and sail to Abu Dhabi, Oman and other neighbouring countries on the single visa rather than having to spend time obtaining two or three separate authorisations.

The new visa is also more cost effective, priced at AU$59 (200 dirhams). Entry into Dubai alone can cost up to $44 for an Australian visiting for less than 96 hours.

Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) executive director of business tourism, Hamad bin Mejren expects the new system will have a positive impact on tourism to Dubai, particularly cruisers who also want to visit neighbouring destinations.

“With Dubai being the only home port for many international cruise lines operational in this region, the advantage of simplifying visa procedures through granting passengers multiple entry tourist permits will reduce the cost for each passenger and further boost the sector’s growth,” he said.

“As partners, by working together we can promote the Arabian Gulf more effectively as a leading cruise destination.

“The new UAE multi-entry visa is a much welcome benefit to growing this important tourism segment.”