Dubai: Three theme parks — including one where inspiration will be drawn from India’s Bollywood — will make up the first phase of the Dubai Parks & Resorts master-development in Jebel Ali. For the younger generation (between two to 12 years), there will be the Middle East’s first Legoland park, which is also the seventh worldwide. The third component comes in the form of Motiongate Dubai, where future visitors can get up close and personal with the Hollywood dream factory, through rides that can take them through four unique zones.
Meraas Holding, developer of one of Dubai’s emerging attractions, The Beach, as well as the retail hub of Citywalk, will helm the Dubai Parks & Resorts project. (Earlier this year, Meraas had confirmed an alliance with Six Flags Entertainment Corp, the NYSE-listed theme park operator.)
The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2016. Ground work started on site last February.
It was in 2012 that Meraas outlined the planned investment of Dh10 billion. The blueprint for the mega destination was unveiled on Sunday, and the promoters reckon they can tap a catchement area within eight hours of flying time from Dubai. It is expected to draw in more than five million visitors annually.
The announcement should be seen in the broader context of Dubai’s multi-pronged plans to create new and compelling attractions in the city. Just before summer, the Mall of the World was revealed and it will have the world’s largest indoor theme park apart from the massive new retail and hotel stock it will create.
“The project will feature leading intellectual properties from elite industry players to create leisure and entertainment concepts,” said Abdullah Al Habbai, chairman of Meraas Holding, in a statement. “We are confident our efforts will contribute to achieving the Dubai Tourism Vision 2020 and become the pride of our nation. At Meraas, we are excited to signal the start of an ambitious destination that is anticipated to generate thousands of new jobs as an international entertainment hub.”
Apart from the three theme parks, the first phase will also have Lapita, a themed hotel that can be a weekend getaway spot for visitors, or even those staying put for a longer time.
Centrally located between the theme parks will be ‘Riverpark’, which will serve as an entrance plaza district and featuring retail, dining and entertainment options.
The Jebel Ali location will now be focal point of all the themed outdoor attractions in the city.
Proximity to Dubai World Central has become a decisive factor in lifting the area’s profile as a natural destination for theme parks. Unlike most cities which host major theme parks, Dubai has opted to build a basket of such attractions rather go in for one or two. “From a value standpoint, the value will be driven by visitor numbers and by creating this increased draw, consolidate investment returns,” said Simon Townsend, Business Development Manager at DTZ.
“The creation of a hub will potentially extend average tourism nights and potentially gradually reduce the reliance on beach tourism. The clustering also potentially reduces time to market through more concentrated infrastructure projects and create supporting business hubs within close proximity [thus] further enhancing the location and its environs.”
According to Al Habbai, “Dubai Parks & Resorts has been designed as the first-of-its-kind entertainment destination that simultaneously opens the gates of three theme parks.”
Raed Al Nuami has been appointed CEO of Dubai Parks & Resorts Ltd. He was until now the Chief Leisure and Entertainment Officer at Meraas.