Disney says ‘no plans’ to open theme park in Dubai

Leisure resort Dubailand is in talks with four unnamed developers for new entertainment deals

Disney was named as a potential partner for stalled resort Dubailand

Disney was named as a potential partner for stalled resort Dubailand

US entertainment giant Walt Disney Company said it has no plans to open a resort in the Middle East, but said Dubai was an “attractive” market for development.

The company was mooted as a potential partner for stalled entertainment resort Dubailand, which last week said it was in talks to agree four deals with leisure firms by end-2011.

“We continually look for opportunities to grow our business and as a part of that process, we have conversations with many different entities,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said.

“While Dubai is an attractive market, we currently have no plans for the region.”

The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. Abu Dhabi is spending billions on visitor attractions such as the Yas and Saadiyat island developments, while Dubai has favoured malls and leisure resorts.  

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

The $91bn project was put on hold in late 2008 after the onset of the financial crisis, and is now expected to be scaled down in design to meet new economic realities.

State-backed Dubai Properties Group (DPG), the developer behind Dubailand, is “negotiating a couple of [major new deals] this year… So we want at least two to four to be announced this year, as much as we can,” CEO Khalid Al Malik told Arabian Business last week.

The president of UAE conglomerate BinHendi Enterprises last week said Dubai needed an entertainment resort on the size and scale of Disneyland if it is to establish itself as a global tourism destination.

 “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,” Mohi-Din BinHendi said. “There is a big gap between Euro Disney and Tokyo Disney. There is a craving for an entertainment anchor [in this region].”

Research firm Business Monitor International on Saturday called for a massive downsizing of Dubailand to fit in with the "harsh realities" of Dubai's battered real estate sector.

“Serious thought (and downsizing) will be needed if the project is to fit in with the harsh realities of Dubai's subdued property market in 2011,” said the report.


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Posted by: Red Snappa

Disney, no doubt are under financial pressure themselves in a rapidly changing world, to be honest South America would be a better bet for them.

If you look at the situation, while they were polite enough to call Dubai an attractive location for development, Disney do not see a lot in it for them, monstrous JV expense and a distinctly cloudy return at best. However, I am sure that if Dubai were to buy a name franchise license from them for 30 years at vast sums and paid them consultancy fees, in the same way as Abu Dhabi bought the license for the Louvre, then with Dubai itself funding construction of the park, there would be no problem.

I am sure that's the way all these big entertainments companies will want to work post-recession.

Just a thought, does Dubailand still encompass Bawadi? A Middle East version of Las Vegas would attract the Chinese! Cabaret, gaming tables, slots they find all that appealing. An entertainment free zone in the desert with its own court &laws like DIFC

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