x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Florida-style fun in Dubai as Dh10bn mega-project gets go-ahead

Five theme parks based in the Jebel Ali area will be linked by shops and restaurants.

According to the announcement made late on Tuesday night, five theme parks planned for the Jebel Ali areas of Dubai have a total value of Dh10 billion (US$2.7bn).

The mega project is to be built by Sheikh Mohammed's own property and investment company Meraas Holding in an attempt to bring a Florida-style entertainment offering to the emirate.

The mega-project is to comprise five theme parks linked by shops and restaurants.

The first phase is to be Meraas' Dubai Adventure Studios, a movie-based fun park, plans for which were announced last December, with completed expected by 2014.

Last year, Meraas said that this project would be part of a three-phase project spread across 8 million square feet and would feature the latest technology games and rides.

This is to be followed by a theme park based around Bollywood movies. Sheikh Mohammed's website said that Meraas has "partnered with several major film studios in Mumbai for leveraging content".

It added that a large theatre within the Bollywood-themed park would showcase musicals.

A third park on the site is to be themed around water and marine life, showcasing aquatic life, animal encounters and live shows.

A children's theme park is to cater to the needs of toddlers, preschoolers and primary schoolchildren. Finally, a "night safari" park is to be themed around the adventures of the wild desert.

"We expect the comprehensive offering to set a new benchmark within the leisure and entertainment industry and offer tourists one more reason to visit Dubai," said Abdulla Ahmed Mohammed Al Habbai, the chairman of Meraas Holding.

This is not the first attempt Dubai has made at developing its tourism through building theme parks.

Back in 2003, the emirate announced it was developing its "Dubailand" scheme that was intended to become the largest collection of theme parks assembled anywhere in the world.

The project was originally planned to cover 278 square kilometres and to include 45 mega projects and 200 sub-projects.

These included a Warner Bros Movie World, Legoland Dubai, Tiger Woods Dubai, and FalconCity of Wonders, but work on most of the developments was put on hold in 2008 because of the financial crisis.

lbarnard@thenational.ae