Dubai: More than Dh20 billion will be spent on turning Dubai into the site of some of the world's most prestigious theme parks.
Dubai's ambitious target of 15 million tourists by 2010 has seen local companies attract the biggest names in the global entertainment business, such as US film studios Universal and Paramount Pictures.
If current projects are realised, Dubai will become the location for rides and attractions based on hits such as Titanic and Mission Impossible, turning the emirate into more than just a haven for golden beaches and luxury hotels.
Guy Wilkinson, partner at Dubai-based hotel consultancy Gloster Management Consultants, said the projects will play a major role in meeting Dubai's ambitious tourist targets up to and beyond 2010.
He said their main impact will be to add permanent variety to holidays in Dubai, thereby increasing the average length of stay, which currently stands at less than a week, and increasing the rate of repeat visits.
Average stay "These projects are very important to Dubai's future. The emirate has 160 confirmed hotel projects and just one day added to the average length of stay will have a significant impact on their business," said Wilkinson.
He added that linking well-known names such as Universal and Paramount to Dubai's attractions will be a huge pull for Middle Eastern families who mostly travel to the US or Europe for amusement park holidays.
Paramount Pictures recently allowed real estate company Ruwaad Holdings to build a theme park in its name.
It will be the hub of a Dh9.2 billion mixed-use development expected to feature hotels, resorts and shopping centres. A location within the UAE was not identified yet at the June announcement.
The project will face competition from its Hollywood-based rival, Universal Studios, which will help set up a Dh8 billion Universal City Dubailand.
Universal Studios will provide technical support to the development while Tatweer, part of Dubai Holding, the Dubai government's investment arm will invest a further Dh8 billion, the two firms said.
The 6.5 million square foot project will be among the world's largest theme parks and will attract more than three million tourists to Dubai by 2010, officials said.
The project will also include hotels, retail outlets, offices and residential compounds.
Content creation Meanwhile, UAE-based Al Ahli Group said it has partnered with American kids TV network Nickelodeon to co-develop its Dh3.67 billion ($1 billion) Dubai amusement park and also create content for its foray into local movie and TV entertainment.
Al Ahli, which owns businesses in industrial manufacturing, real estate development and publishing, said the amusement park is scheduled to open in 2011, but did not reveal its location.
In March, the company signed a similar licensing deal with Marvel Entertainment, the owners of the Spiderman and Batman comic book hero franchises.
As well as attracting big names from overseas, Dubai is also creating its own amusement park themes.