Dubailand set to be one of the region’s top attractions

Development will offer an unparalleled choice of theme parks, sports facilities and other leisure attractions.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  May 14, 2005

Dubailand set to be one of the region’s top attractions|~|DSCN1059200.jpg|~|Dubailand is witnessing a host of projects taking shape, including theme parks, shopping malls, entertainment zones and hotel complexes.|~|Dubailand has captured the imagination of developers and architects across the globe, and some large projects are now beginning to take shape. The development strategy is a long term one; the overall project will take between ten and 15 years to complete, with the first phase scheduled for completion in 2007. In terms of area, Dubailand will be twice the size of Disneyland, or about the same size as the current built-up area of Dubai, with around 55 hotels and resorts offering up to 50 000 new rooms, creating the world’s largest visitor destination. Altogether, the 300 million m2 project will involve investment of AED18 billion spread across six zones, 45 main projects and 200 sub-projects. The first zone is Attractions and Experience World, 14.5 million m2 of theme parks clustered around a viewing tower. The projects that make up this world include: theme parks, Global Village, water parks, Kids’ City, and Giants’ World. The 4.5 million m2 Retail & Entertainment World will be a central development made up of family entertainment and retail concepts in a themed environment. Themed Leisure and Vacation World will cover 31 million m2 and create a number of new resorts for Dubai including Women’s World, Destination Dubai, Desert Kingdom and Andalusian Resort & Spa. Eco Tourism World will be 80 million m2 dedicated to preserving the desert heritage of Dubai and creating a habitat for animals. The area will try to create a Safari experience and will provide visitors with a taste of desert life. The zone will include: the Sand Dune Hotels, Desert Camps and Dubai Heritage Vision. Dubailand’s Sports & Out-door World Zone will provide 20 million m2 of sporting facilities and will include Dubai Sports City, Emarat Sports World, Plantation Equestrian and Polo Club, Autodrome and Dubai Golf City. The sixth zone is Downtown, which will be the gateway into Dubailand and serve as the developments business and administrative district. It will include a land bridge with impressive gateway towers, as well as a number of grand squares and piazzas. The different components that make up these zones are now at a variety of different stages. Some projects have already been completed; others formally launched and under construction; and many more are still under negotiat- ion or are vague concepts awaiting development. The most recent announcement from Dubailand was that Rufi Real Estate will develop Rufi Twin Towers at Dubai Sports City. Built on 5 million m2, the development features four sporting stadia, sports academies, a golf course, sports mall, villas, residential complexes and a number of high-rise buildings. Al Naboodah recently completed the enabling works — which includes 9.2 km of roads around the site — and work is set to start soon on the piling packages for the stadia. Another project that has figured heavily in the news lately is the recently-launched City of Arabia. Occupying a site measuring 2 million m2, the development will feature a huge shopping mall called Mall of Arabia — predicted to be the world’s largest. It will also house a dinosaur theme park called Restless Planet, which has been developed in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of London and is set to open its doors to the public in 2008. The residential components of the development are set to open even earlier and should be ready in 2007. Union Properties is building an extension of its already complete Dubai Autodrome. Known as Motor City, the extension will cost the developer some US $2 billion and will be built around the Autodrome circuit. As the name suggests, the development will be used as a business park for the motor and motor-related sector, and will cover some 3 million m2. The project also includes the construction of Ferrari World theme park complete with a museum, interactive displays, a clubhouse, restaurants and retail areas. Another major development was announced at Cityscape last year, when a Saudi Arabian investment group, together with Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House, confirmed that they would build the world’s largest indoor theme park — the $3.8 billion mixed-use Arabian Legends. According to the developers, the project will be carried out in three stages, with the first phase commencing operations in 2007 and the second phase reaching completion in 2010. The third and final phase will be completed by 2013. The Arabian Legends development will have five theme areas. The Legends of Nature will have a biodome to showcase the diversity of the climate, while the Legends of the World has been inspired by people and places. The complex will have a Legends Leisure Complex that will offer entertainment, retail and fine dining. It will also feature four hotels, three of which will be themed on Arabian, Caribbean and medieval concepts. Apartment complexes will be part of this segment. Arabian Legends will also have a golf course with surrounding villas built in what will be the Living Legends segment. There will also be Trade Legends, offering offices and covered arcades. Work has already begun on the Dubai Heritage Vision, a development that includes an amphitheatre and traditional bedouin-style souk. The enabling works, landfill, roads and parking areas have already been completed on the 1.4 million m2 site opposite Academic City on the road to Al Ain. Work on the foundations for the amphitheatre and water features are expected to start soon, and the entire development is scheduled for completion in January next year. “Phase one of the amphitheatre will seat 1000 people, and phase two will bring that number up to 5000,” said Johan M. Viljoen, the marketing director of Dubai Heritage Vision. Work on Outlet City, a 120 000 m2 outlet mall, is due to begin on site within the next two to three weeks. “Once the first phase is complete [the retail mall], work will start on residential properties and a hotel,” said Vishal Mahajan, manager - retail leasing, Asteco. A wide range of projects are still either concepts or are under negotiation with Dubailand. Such projects include the Sand Dune Hotel, which according to Faisal Al Raisi, assistant manager - business development, Dubailand, is currently in negotiations with a local investor, with an announcement expected in the next two to three months. Space Park Hotel is another project still under negotiation. The sprawling space-themed park will include a virtual reality planetarium, an air museum, aerodrome, and a futuristic hotel. According to Al Raisi, an announcement on the development is expected by the year-end.||**||

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