x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Global crisis forces Dubailand review

Tatweer is reviewing the Dubailand project and hopes to have a plan soon to deal with current economic conditions.

Dubailand's masterplan includes 45 theme-based projects made up of amusement parks, hotel complexes and leisure facilities.
Dubailand's masterplan includes 45 theme-based projects made up of amusement parks, hotel complexes and leisure facilities.
DUBAI // The Dubailand project, one of the emirate's biggest and most important planned tourist attractions, is being reviewed and a plan to deal with current economic conditions could be announced in a few weeks.

Khalid al Malik, the chief executive of Tatweer, the master developer, said work on the huge project was proceeding "as planned" for now. "We are committed to completing and delivering these projects because we know that this is the only way we can achieve our 2015 tourism vision," Mr al Malik said on the sidelines of the Deloitte hospitality conference in Dubai yesterday. Still, he said the company and government officials were "assessing the current situation and are working out a plan which will be publicly announced by the end of the month".

Dubailand, which was launched in Oct 2003, is one of the most complex and ambitious projects in the emirate, involving dozens of developers and hundreds of subcontractors. Tatweer, a unit of Dubai Holdings, the property developer and hotel owner that in turn is owned by the Dubai Government, is the master developer overseeing the entire project. Dubailand's master plan includes 45 theme-based projects including amusement parks, hotel complexes and leisure facilities, all geared towards attracting families. One of Tatweer's units, the developer Bawadi, is building Asia Asia, a 6,500-room hotel covering more than 55 hectares, as well as a strip of other hotels making up the hospitality core of the project. More than 20 of the projects, which include residential areas, have been signed off for development as part of the first phase. The value of the entire development, which is expected to be completed in four phases up to 2020, is estimated to be about Dh325 billion (US$88.48bn).

Once complete, Tatweer hopes Dubailand will attract 40,000 visitors a day and contribute to Dubai's plans to lure 15 million tourists a year to the emirate by 2015, compared with 7.7 million last year. However, most of the project has yet to break ground and with financing for large-scale projects extremely scarce, developers are reassessing their plans. They face difficulty obtaining operating capital at manageable interest rates.

A high-level committee of the Dubai Government has been formed to evaluate and set priorities for projects in light of the financing crunch.

The funding situation has spawned rumours of mergers in the sector, but Mr al Malik said no consideration was being given to merging Tatweer with other developers. "Tatweer will remain as Tatweer and, as I said before, we are committed to all our projects," he said.