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Dubai: Six Flags Entertainment Corp, one of the world’s leading theme park developers, is to add to the entertainment options at a master-development being built by Meraas Holding, the Dubai-government owned real estate company, in the Jebel Ali locality. The announcement was made in the US, with late 2017 given as the opening date.
The deal was struck with Meraas Leisure and Entertainment. Incidentally, Meraas is also the developer behind the Bluewaters offshore project in Dubai that is to feature the world’s largest Ferris wheel.
Entertainment options are being assigned high priority by Dubai’s developers, to add to the established retail and hospitality components. Dubailand is seeing a revival of some similar projects that were shelved during the downturn, while IMG is nearing the completion schedule for its multi-theme facilities that will feature Marvel superheroes and Cartoon Network favourites.
Six Flags Entertainment currently operates 18 themed destinations in North America and Mexico and has revenues of $1.1 billion (Dh4 billion). The operator had been associated with possible projects in the UAE prior to the 2008 downturn.
In a media statement, Jim Reid-Anderson, chairman, president and CEO of Six Flags Entertainment, said: “The cornerstone of our international expansion strategy has always been finding the right partner in the right location and, with Meraas in Dubai, we have done exactly that.
“We are honoured to be working with this world-class organisation as the first significant strategic step taking the Six Flags brand to growing and successful markets outside North America.”
Some of the Meraas backed projects have already built up a following, such as the Citywalk shopping centre off Al Wasl Road. It also has interests in Ras Al Khor, Al Barsha 2 and Nad Al Hamar, apart from the offshore ventures. Meraas also has a joint venture to develop a sizable tract in MBR City.
On the Six Flags deal, Raed Al Nuaimi, chief leisure and entertainment officer, Meraas L&E, was quoted in a statement as saying: “We are confident their presence will perfectly complement our project and further enhance our overall offerings in the leisure and entertainment space.”
Analysts said that the theme park will have a positive impact on the tourism market. It could allow for tourists to stay longer in the emirate, according to Peter Goddard, managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting.
“The problem with the tourism market historically had been the short average length of stay,” he said.
Also, this project could result in more hotels being developed nearby, he added.
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, and Sarah Algethami, Staff Reporter, gulfnews.com