Business | Investment

Freij to build highest ferris wheel

Proposed Dubai Eye to cost Dh1b and will provide a bird's-eye view of emirate

  • By Deena Kamel Yousef, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 April 18, 2012
  • Gulf News

Visitors view lifelike dinosaurs at the Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) expo
  • Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News
  • Visitors view lifelike dinosaurs at the Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) expo at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. More than 200 exhibitors from 40 countries are participating in the show.

Dubai Freij Entertainment International, the company behind the rides in the Global Village as well as other local entertainment venues, plans to build the world's highest ferris wheel in Dubai but is awaiting government support, its chief executive told Gulf News.

The proposed Dubai Eye would cost over Dh1 billion and scale 170 metres, towering over the world's current largest observation wheel the Singapore Flyer, said Freij Al Zein, group chief executive officer of Freij Entertainment. The Asian wheel stands at 165 metres.

The idea is to provide a bird's-eye view of Dubai, especially the Palm Islands which are popular with outsiders, he said.

Al Zein also has ambitious plans to build a major indoor theme park in the UAE combining shows, rides and a zoo. The proposed park would be between 92,900 square metres and 464,500 square feet, with equipment worth Dh1 billion.

He said the UAE was in urgent need of a theme park as the country was a magnet for European tourists.

"The UAE market needs very urgently a theme park as a European tourist destination," he said.

But his plans are on hold until he gets the necessary "government support" for land and licensing procedures, he said.

"Today Dubai is very difficult, before in one phone call decisions could be made. Now there's the RTA, Dewa, Police, Civil Defence, DED, you don't know who you're talking to," he said.

The Global Village's amusement component has performed well this year, growing 10 to 12 per cent on last year, he said.

He, however, said a future increase in rents would be difficult to bear.

"The cost to operate the Global Village is more than creating a permanent park the whole year round... Dubai is the most difficult place in the world for me."

Freij Entertainment operates in 45 countries across Asia, Europe, North America and the Arab world with about 500 rides. His comments came on the sidelines of the Dubai Entertainment Amusement and Leisure show that was officially inaugurated yesterday by Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality.

It will end tomorrow. More than 200 exhibitors from 40 countries are participating in the show, targeting the multi-billion dollar theme park industry in the GCC.

Gulf countries are investing massively in leisure tourism infratructure to lure tourists.

Theme parks are key to attracting families.

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