Dubai `needs a Disneyland` to boost tourism

Tuesday May 31 2011

Dubai needs an entertainment resort on the size and scale of Disneyland if it is to attract a larger slice of the global tourism pie, the president of UAE?s BinHendi Enterprises said.
The UAE?s trade and tourism hub must create an anchor attraction to push it into the league of destinations such as the US and UK, and mark Dubai as the region?s top holiday spot, Mohi-Din BinHendi said. ?
?We need an entertainment anchor for the family, something like Disney but not Disney. If we have a project like this in Dubai, we have an anchor for the whole of the world,? he told Arabian Business. ?There is a big gap between Euro Disney and Tokyo Disney. There is a craving for an entertainment anchor [in this region].?
The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. The capital is spending billions on visitor attractions such as the Yas and Saadiyat island developments, in a bid to establish itself as a holiday destination.
BinHendi said he was in talks to create a theme park project with Star Wars director George Lucas and US engineers Bechtel before the global financial crisis. The resort, ?The Magic World of Dubai?, was to be linked by monorail to Dubai Airport but the plans were scrapped when the financial backers pulled out after the credit crunch, BinHendi said.
A key barrier to Dubai creating its own family entertainment resort would be a lack of capital, he said. ?Today we attract a lot of tourists who come here to enjoy the sun, the beaches and the hotels, but we are not an exotic destination. We are not like Fiji or Hawaii. This is what is missing in Dubai. If I had the finance I would do this project as one of the leading projects in this part of the world,? he said.

The resort was designed to be twice the size of Walt Disney World Resort and boasted tie-ups with Universal Studios, Legoland and US theme park giant Six Flags.
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