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MARKET REPORT: MIDDLE EAST It’s not just about new attractions


though. Existing attractions continue to invest in their offer. Ferrari World, for example, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, opened in March of this year, which features a collection of rides and experiences for small children and families, while its newest rollercoaster, Mission Ferrari, and a 400m long zipline experience off the red roof are still to come.


Dubai expo Centre


Al Arab. Work on both of the latter two projects, however, is believed to have been paused and they may well be undergoing re-design in the light of recent market trends and conditions. Dubai Safari, which briefly first opened in 2018, was also last announced as due to re- open in 2020 but could also now see its re-opening date pushed out to 2021. In Abu Dhabi, work on the first phase of


Yas Bay on Yas Island, a lifestyle waterfront development, is now well underway with construction of the 18,000- seat Etihad Arena well advanced. Construction of the 257 key Warner Bros’ themed family hotel and 156 key serviced apartments also both Etihad Arena and the Warner Bros’ Hotel should both now open in 2021. The addition of the Warner Bros. themed hotel is seen as critical to the process of turning Yas Island in to a family resort destination Similarly, the tower cranes continue to


turn on the 67 hectares SeaWorld park, also being developed on Yas Island. The lower than forecast performance of the theme parks that have opened in the UAE to date, however, does raise questions about the ability of the UAE market to absorb more new theme parks, highlighting that the timing of the opening of SeaWorld needs to be very carefully considered. Currently, SeaWorld is due to open in 2022.


PARK WORLD Handbook & Buyer’s Guide 2020 27 Work is also continuing in Abu Dhabi on


the eagerly anticipated Zayed National Museum, with most recent announcements forecasting a 2021 opening. What’s interesting to note is that past


years in the UAE have tended to also see a significant number of new projects announced. Its noteworthy, therefore, that there have been no new leisure projects announced in the UAE for almost 2-years now. There is still no news either 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.


Family Zone Ferrari World


Of note, even before the coronavirus crisis struck, is the permanent closure of Hub Zero in February 2020, a 15,000 sqm digital Family Entertainment Centre that opened in City Walk Dubai in 2016. The closure of Hub Zero is noteworthy as one of the few major new attractions to permanently close in the Middle East. There are other examples of attractions in the UAE that have closed over the years, such as Stargate in Za’abeel Park and Iceland Water Park in Ras Al Khaimah but there are surprisingly few. Given the financial impact that the coronavirus crisis has had on all attractions in the Middle East, however, it’s expected that more could now follow with the possibility that there could well be a number of other high-profile attraction closures during the next 12 months or so. Global Village Dubai, which reported 7 million visitors during its 2018 / 2019


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