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MARKET REPORT: MIDDLE EAST


development that will include residential, commercial, educational, healthcare, leisure and hospitality facilities. Phase 1 is for the development of 25 hectares over 5-years. By comparison, there have been no


further announcements since November 2017 on the Oman Botanic Garden that was designed by a team led by Grimshaw Architects for a 420 hectares site 35 km north of Muscat and the project is assumed to have been postponed, as is the US$ 2 billion Yiti Coastal Resort Project, that was to include a range of adventure and activity based attractions.


Summary The number of live leisure and entertainment projects is the region continues to surprise. Economic conditions in the region before the coronavirus crisis were already proving challenging for attraction operators, however, and it’s clear that the full economic impact of the coronavirus crisis


has yet to be realised throughout the region. As a result, the scope and rate of progress of many of the projects described above may yet still be materially impacted and projects even cancelled, depending on the length of the recovery period. The determination and necessity to diversify the region’s economies away from oil hasn’t changed, however, and despite the coronavirus crisis the number of new mega- projects in the region that are only just starting and the new opportunities these will create for the Middle East leisure and entertainment industry are huge. In the UAE, specifically in Dubai, even


without the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we are clearly seeing a bit of a pause for breath as Dubai continues to focus on delivering an amazing Expo 2020. Likewise, in Qatar, the focus is about delivering all of the infrastructure required for FIFA 2022, which it appears to be well on track to do.


The biggest trend in the region, however, continues to be the announcements by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman of the on- going development of new, mega-cities, of which leisure will clearly be a key component. There’s no doubt, therefore, based on the project pipeline across the region as a whole, despite the setbacks being suffered due the coronavirus pandemic, that the leisure and entertainment industry in the region is still one of the fastest growing in the world and promises to be for many years to come.


Phil Taylor is the managing director of


Team Leisure (www.team-leisure.com), a specialist leisure-consulting firm based in the United Arab Emirates. Team Leisure’s services include market analyses and feasibility studies, project development services and operational consulting services to the owners, developers and operators of leisure businesses worldwide.


Yas Island


PARK WORLD Handbook & Buyer’s Guide 2020


31


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