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MARKET REPORT: MIDDLE EAST


commenced and the tower cranes are turning for the 67 hectares SeaWorld park also being developed on Yas Island. SeaWorld is due to open in 2022. Construction of the 257 key Warner Bros’ themed family hotel and 156 key serviced apartments is also understood to have been issued for tender. The addition of the Warner Bros.


themed hotel is seen as critical to begin the process of turning Yas Island in to a family resort destination but the question that was raised earlier about the ability of the market to absorb new theme does highlight that the timing of the opening of SeaWorld needs to be very carefully considered. The spectacular Louvre Abu Dhabi has also recently completed its first year of operation and is also reporting over 1 million visitors in its first year. Following its success, the British Museum has had its agreement for the Sheikh Zayed


National Museum renewed raising expectations that this project, which stopped construction in 2010, will start again later this year. There is still no news on work on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi restarting but, in any event, a gradual, gentler rate of progress on creating a cluster of world-class museums in Abu Dhabi is much more in line with current market conditions. In Dubai, though, work building the Museum of the Future is now very visibly progressing next to the Emirates Towers. What an amazing building it is and the opening, now scheduled for 2020, is eagerly anticipated. Of note in the last twelve months,


however, is that there have not been any new leisure project announcements in 2018 reflecting, perhaps, a not-surprising focus on delivering an amazing Expo 2020, the designs for which are really exciting.


Of note also is that the Marsa Al Arab


project announced in 2017, which was to include two new islands being created next to the Burj Al Arab, has been significantly de-scoped to omit the islands, one of which was to include a new 23 hectares Marine Park. The project is now essentially limited to the development of a new hotel and marina next to the Jumeriah Beach Hotel. What this means is that beyond 2020


the attractions pipeline of new projects, particularly in Dubai, less so for Abu Dhabi, is almost a blank sheet of paper. It’s as if the whole industry is pausing to get its breath back before deciding on what direction to go next. Watch this space…


SAUDI ARABIA Saudi Arabia is definitely where the spotlight is focused in the Middle East at the moment. The first cinemas in 35 years opened last year and the number of planned screens is


Louvre Abu Dhabi – View overlooking the sea


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