Step into a big fat Bollywood wedding in Dubai where an animated Ranbir Kapoor welcomes you at the door, while Shah Rukh Khan takes pride of place, arms stretched wide in his trademark style. The bridal party of course isn’t complete without Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor Khan as the celebrity guests, while Salman Khan hops aboard a cycle rickshaw to ‘Kick’ things off for a kitschy song and dance routine to follow.
In case you’re wondering, this isn’t some fantasy fictional universe at play but a peek into one of seven themed rooms at Madame Tussauds Dubai, which welcomes visitors to the venue from October 14. The new landmark takes pride of place on Bluewaters Island, standing tall under the shadow of Ain Dubai, the world’s highest observation wheel, which will also open its doors seven days later.
The Dubai edition is the 25th outlet of the wax museum, with the original dating back to 1835 when the first Madame Tussauds established itself in London. The venue may not be as large as the mammoth ones you would find in the British capital or in New York, but Madame Tussauds Dubai does give visitors a chance to rub shoulders with lifelike statues of some of the biggest names in politics, sports and showbiz.
Ahead of the official launch, Gulf News got a chance to walk through the wax museum, which promises to become a hot new favourite with celebrities, visitors and influencers in coming days.
Position of power
Perhaps one of the most prominent rooms in Madame Tussauds Dubai is one themed on world leaders and royals. As you step off the elevator, a striking wax figure of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stands on attention in a makeshift Taj Mahal, welcoming visitors to the first room with folded hands in a traditional Namaste greeting.
Peek over his shoulder and Chinese President Xi Jinping borders the Indian head of state, standing abreast a replica of the Great Wall.
A corner in the room also beckons visitors to take a peek into Air Force One, with no Joe Biden but former US President Donald Trump appearing to furiously type away on his mobile phone, complete with a comb-over, while Melania Trump looks into the distance. You may also do a double take when you see their pilot bears a striking resemblance to a popular Hollywood star.
Before you exit the room though, do stop to sip tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Although, it looks like the rift between the British royal family and Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex stretches across continents.
Of billionaires and beautiful models
For those who dream of strutting their stuff on the catwalk or appearing on the cover of a high-end magazine, the Fashion zone is a space where those ambitions can come true.
Filled with a who’s who of runway icons (all of them impeccably dressed, of course), here keen fashionistas can admire the queen of British style, Victoria Beckham, put together a couture-inspired outfit for Vogue Editor Anna Wintour’s approval, play at being BFFs with supermodel Cara Delevingne, or strike a pose with reality stars Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
Lights, camera, action!
Hollywood finds its own spotlight for its signature heroes, with Spider-Man perched over Katniss Aberdeen, almost ready to break into a ‘Hunger Games’-esque battle. Tom Cruise and Jackie Chan bring the action, while Vin Diesel appears too fast and too furious for the Dubai skyline stretched out behind him.
When the director calls ‘Cut!’, why not hop over for breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn by your side?
Arab stars stand tall
As the first such wax museum in the GCC, Madame Tussauds Dubai has taken great effort in representing local and regional talent at the venue.
While the museum had already unveiled the wax figures of local singing sensation Balqees and Palestinian star Mohammed Assaf in the lead up to the launch, other Arab talent such as Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, Iraqi-Moroccan superstar Kadim Al Sahir (who incidentally performs at Expo 2020 Dubai on October 15), Lebanese pop singer, actress and television personality Maya Diab and Emirati weightlifter Amna Al Haddad stand tall with global stars by their side.
Some local personalities also make their way into the Media zone, including local radio presenter Kris Fade, YouTube phenomenon Bin Baz, ‘Arab Idol’ presenter, singer and actor Ahmed Fahmi, among others.
There are plenty of occasions to strike a pose with some of the biggest superstars on the planet, but the museum is not all about taking selfies or creating the latest TikTok viral trend.
The Bollywood area at Madame Tussauds Dubai also allows visitors to star in a bespoke music video and debut their best dance moves in front of an interactive digital screen, with Shah Rukh Khan as your partner in crime.
Similarly, sports enthusiasts are likely to be staggered by the immersive Sports room where they will be able to kick off the experience by taking a penalty alongside football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, or throw a well-aimed punch at the legendary Muhammad Ali. If that’s not your scene, then take pole position atop the F1 winner’s podium as race car champion Lewis Hamilton looks on.
Fast facts about Madame Tussauds Dubai
With seven themed zones to explore and more than 60 lifelike wax figures to discover — including 16 all-new figures from the Middle East — the attraction opens its doors to the public on October 14 on Bluewaters Island, Dubai.
Guests can shimmy through a Hollywood movie set, pose with Posh Spice or dance away among a glittering array of regional and international stars, including global superstars such Will Smith, Rihanna Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and more. You are invited to touch and feel the statues and take as many selfies as your please.
The venue will be open seven days a week and tickets can be purchased at the attraction or on its official website, priced at Dh135 for adults (ages 11 years and up), Dh110 for children (ages 3-11 years), while those three and under go in for free.
History of Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds first opened its doors in 1835 in London, and has nearly 200 years of heritage to its name. Each figure is created using the expertise of sculptors who use the same techniques immortalised by the famous Marie Tussaud.
To create a single lifelike figure it takes an artist 12 weeks in total, and during that time they document 500 precise body measurements, insert real hair strand by strand, apply countless layers of paints to build up the skin tones, and more. This entire process helps to achieve the incredible likeness that has made Madame Tussauds world renowned for over two centuries.
The time and craftsmanship is also reflected in the value of the figure, which can cost up to Dh700,000, depending on the detail required.
The outlet in Dubai will be the 25th Madame Tussauds attraction, with previous openings in New York, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney and so on.