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Movie-based theme parks to lead industry in Middle East: Falaknaz

UAE will set the benchmark for the global industry with its current portfolio of creative and state-of-the-art theme parks

Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Chairman of International Expo Consults (IEC), and organizer of the Dubai Entertainment Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) show, stated that the increase of theme parks based on movie franchises reflect the international stakeholders’ interest to the Middle East’s surging amusement and leisure industry.

These theme parks based on movies will also bring in a huge number of tourists to Dubai, according to IEC. Ongoing construction of amusement attractions are in line with Dubai’s vision to transform to an ultimate family tourism destination.

The popularity of the movie and show franchises will drive revenues to these developments. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) forecasted that current and upcoming UAE amusement tourist destinations can draw about 18 million theme park visits by 2021. Currently, there are three developments being constructed in the UAE, mostly revolving on Hollywood blockbusters: IMG Worlds of Adventure, 20th Century Fox World and Dubai Parks & Resorts.

DEAL 2016 will introduce the Amusement Operators & Franchise Showcase pavilion, which is set to host visitors of various profiles in DEAL such as investors and decision makers in the amusement franchising industry: real estate firms involved in shopping centers and mixed-use developments; theme park and FEC operators; retailers and education providers; event organizers and government figures.

“There is a huge role that entertainment attractions play in Dubai’s tourism sector. Our theme parks could compete with its globally renowned counterparts, and we are witnessing a maturity in the industry. Parks with movie themes are a win-win situation for both moviemakers and stakeholders as the former need to find ways to leverage their intellectual properties to something that will still generate long-term revenue after their masterpieces have hit the big screens,” said Falaknaz.

Recently announced 20th Century Fox World, set to open in 2018, will feature rides and attractions based on big and small screen hits such as Titanic, Ice Age, The Simpsons, and Planet of the Apes.

Dubai Parks and Resorts will allocate various themed areas including Motiongate, with 27 themed rides and attractions based on DreamWorks (Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon), Lionsgate (Hunger Games and Step Up), Sony Picture Studios (Hotel Transylvania and Zombieland), Smurfs Village and Studio Central. Bollywood, the biggest movie producer in the world, will also be the central theme of Bollywood Parks Dubai. This theme park is set to be one to attract Bollywood enthusiasts to the UAE, with attractions based from Bollywood’s best reel hits.

“Around the globe, the most popular theme parks revolve around movie themes. Cases in point: Universal Studios and the Disney World franchises. Those who are looking to visit a family entertainment center want something that is recognizable to them and most movie enthusiasts would want to engage in something similar with a set tour, sans the green screen,” added Falaknaz.

“Theme parks need not introduce characters or concepts as the ones in the movie theme park rides are already familiar. The possibility of these movies being tangible or coming to life, with immersive experiences and excitement brought about by the perfect mix of hit movies with theme park rides.”

The growth of attractions with movie themes isn’t just in Middle East but also in Asia. The upcoming theme parks in China, including the USD4 billion Shanghai Disney resort is under development and Universal Studios in Beijing is set to complete its USD3.3 billion theme park in 2019.

“These theme parks will increase curiosity. For example, Titanic and Hunger Games–how do we transform the tragedies in the plots of these movies to something that families and the general public will enjoy?” said Falaknaz.

Dubai’s theme parks are expected to generate close to US$5 billion in revenue by 2020, according to IEC, a part of Falak Holding. DEAL 2016 event will be held from 19th to 21st April, 2016 at Zabeel Halls 4, 5 and 6 in the Dubai World Trade Center, Dubai, UAE.