The government-owned Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec) is to build a new convention centre project in Al-Ain and has started to appoint companies to build the AED3.5bn ($953.2m) project.

The local Al Fara’a General Contracting has been awarded the construction contract for the first phase of the project.

UK-based Shankland Cox has been appointed as the architect for the development.

Adnec expects to award the remaining contracts for the development in the next few months.

The mixed-use project, which will be located in the Al-Jimi area of the city, is scheduled to contain a cultural centre, hotels, and residential and commercial facilities.

The convention centre is part of Abu Dhabi’s plans to develop Al-Ain into a business destination.

Adnec is also currently extending the conference and exhibition facilities in a new district of Abu Dhabi city, the Capital Centre. This is part of the government’s plans to attract 2.3 million visitors to the emirate by the end of 2012.

When completed, the $2.1bn Capital Centre will include an extended Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, commercial and residential towers, a shopping mall and a $303m, 35-storey mixed-use tower, Capital Gate.

The extended exhibition complex will include 57,000 square metres of exhibition floor space, a 21,000 sq m visitor area and 7,500 sq m of multi-purpose exhibition halls. The conference facilities will accommodate 1,200 delegates (MEED 6:11:09).