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Abu Dhabi Airport: Screens like Arabian Sand Dunes

The new $3 billion terminal at Abu Dhabi Airport reflects the sand dunes of the United Arab Emirates in its architecture. In the duty-free area, Blue Rhine Industries translated the undulating structures into digital form.

In November 2023, Terminal A at Abu Dhabi Airport opened its doors. Its undulating roof, resembling sand dunes made of steel, was featured last summer in the blockbuster movie Mission Impossible – Death Reckoning Part One, with Tom Cruise sprinting across it on the big screen. These sand dune-inspired shapes can be found across the entire terminal, including the digital and static signage in the duty-free area.

Five years of planning

When tasked by the architect to incorporate meticulously curved forms into the duty-free area, Lagardère Travel Retail sought the support of Dubai-based signage integrator Blue Rhine Industries (BRI). Their collaboration began approximately five years before the terminal’s opening, resulting in a duty-free landscape adorned with curved digital elements.

Egg-shaped LED portals

The most prominent display of these wave-like forms can be seen at the entrances to the three duty-free sections. The entrances, somewhat resembling the shape of an egg, are each covered with a double-curved screen above the shop signs. These custom-made screens boast a brightness of 1,200 nits, which is exceptionally bright for an indoor screen. Below the screen and around the shop sign, Blue Rhine Industries installed elongated LED strips that, alongside the large screen, display dynamic content sequences.

Entrance to the duty-free area "Le Gourmet" (Photo: Blue Rhine Industries)
Entrance to the duty-free area “Le Gourmet” (Photo: Blue Rhine Industries)

Within one of the three duty-free areas, the integrator installed an 80-meter-long flexible LED strip that, installed at the ceiling and extending through the shopping area. The strip is housed in a golden casing, concealing the cables on the back. Lagardère utilizes it for advertising purposes, but according to BRI, it also serves as way-guiding signage and for emergency notifications.

In this video, Blue Rhine Industries describes the details of these two custom-made screens:

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BRI set up a cloud-based CMS (Content Management System) for all digital touchpoints in the duty-free area. Other integrated solutions designed and manufactured by BRI include illuminated 3D aluminum cladding for the storefronts, RGB animated lighting, a centrally or individually operable BGM (Background Music) system, as well as static signage for F&B (Food & Beverage) units.

And outside the Duty-Free?

The same integrator was also involved in some installations outside the duty-free area: Several screens designed by BRI are spread throughout the entire terminal. Among these are a series of airside and landside screens with IP65 housings, making them waterproof and dustproof, intended to withstand Abu Dhabi’s climate conditions year-round.

Separate from these touchpoints is the digital Passenger Journey: Once completed, it will include nine different touchpoints, all with biometric capabilities. According to the airport operator, this is more biometric touchpoints than in any other airport.

The construction itself is immense: With a floor area of 742,000 square meters and a capacity of 45 million passengers per year, Terminal A is one of the largest worldwide. By the way, the designation “A” will soon be history. As of November 15th, all passenger operations conducted through this new terminal. And this February, the terminal will be renamed Zayed International Airport in honor of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates.