Dubailand on track for 2015

Senior VP assures mega-project still full steam ahead

Dubailand's Mohammed Alhabbai.
Dubailand's Mohammed Alhabbai.

Dubailand is on track and work is progressing well, with 19 scheduled projects to be delivered by 2015, according to its management.

Mohammed Alhabbai, Dubailand senior vice president, said that theme park projects were going ahead as planned, with phased openings for all elements of the overall Dubailand project.

“Most of our projects are on the ground and under construction. This includes Universal Studios, Six Flags, DreamWorks, Marvel and Tiger Woods,” said Alhabbai. “Whatever has been announced will be there.”

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In a departure from previous strategy, Alhabbai declined to give a definitive opening date for the Universal Studios project. Previously Tatweer, Dubailand’s parent company, had been adamant about a 10th December 2010 launch. “As of today, we’re working with Universal Studios to announce an official opening date,” said Alhabbai.

However, the senior VP was willing to disclose prospective opening dates for other parts of the overall project. “Most of our projects are phased, with phase two scheduled for the end of this year or the beginning of next year,” said Alhabbai.

“This year we’re officially opening Dubai Sports City, and that’ll be followed by 24 international academies, including the Manchester United academy. Next year we will have F1-X, Falcon City and Al Barari. By 2011, we’ll have Lifestyle City and The Palmarosa.” Alhabbai also confirmed that Restless Planet and the associated City and Mall of Arabia were also proceeding as planned. “We already have 250 dinosaurs ready for Restless Planet, stored in Japan,” he said.

“By 2015, we expect all the projects will be in operation,” added Alhabbai.

Alhabbai conceded that there had been delays on the project and that the global credit crisis had had an impact, but pointed out the net effect on the overall project was limited. “This is a global crisis, we cannot deny we have been affected. But we’ve worked hard to phase the timeline. When we say F1-X has been pushed from November this year to 2010, that’s within a six month time line,” he said.

When challenged on the viability of running such a large number of theme parks in the region, Alhabbai pointed to the uniqueness of the operation of Dubailand as a whole. “Even places like Walt Disney World really only target their local market – the majority of their visitors are from the United States. We’re looking at an international market of around five to six hours flight time from Dubai. That’s a potential market of three billion people, so it’s a great opportunity,” he said.

He underlined the commitment to the Dubailand project. “We are committed and working hard,” said Alhabbai. “We will maintain and deliver our promises.”

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