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MARKET REPORT: MIDDLE EAST


Global Village Dubai


Market Report: Middle East


With the added challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, market conditions in the Middle East have been exceptionally challenging for the attractions industry over the past 12 months, writes Phil Taylor. All existing attractions have been closed since early March with some countries not expected to allow attractions to re-open until at least September. Coupled to this, almost all new projects throughout the region are on-hold, deferred or slowed to a near halt. Here the Dubai-based industry expert and consultant brings us up to speed with projects from the UAE and wider Middle East region.


he big headline for 2020 is, of course, the decision to delay the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai from October 2020 to October 2021. It’s clearly the right decision to have taken, and an excellent example of the strong leadership that has guided the growth of the UAE in to a leading international destination these past many years but, even as recently as February 2020, the sense of excitement and anticipation that was building for the originally planned opening of the Expo in October 2020 was already palpable. There is no doubt that the project leadership and team will


T 26


rise to the challenges of re-mobilising the project and re-igniting visitors’ anticipation and desire to visit in 2021 but what an incredibly demanding set of unforeseeable circumstances and challenges to have


thrown at their feet. Even before the impact of the


coronavirus on the Middle East attractions’ industry, however, the development of new attractions and the number of attraction openings in the UAE was already slowing down. Notable openings in 2019 included Kidzania Abu Dhabi at Yas Mall, Clmyb indoor skydiving and climbing centre, also on Yas Island, and in Dubai, the Coca Cola


Arena, the largest multipurpose indoor arena yet to open in the Middle East. Previous years, however, have seen double this number of major openings and often more than that. As a further indication of this slowing


down, a number of notable projects that were expected to open as far back as 2018 have progressively had their opening dates pushed out to late 2020 or beyond. In Dubai this includes the Legoland Hotel at Legoland Dubai, the Museum of the Future, Ain Dubai (The Dubai Eye), Meydan One (with a much anticipated 1km long indoor ski slope) and Marsa Al Arab, a cluster of new hotels, marina and attractions near the Burj


PARK WORLD Handbook & Buyer’s Guide 2020


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