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Sun 23 Sep 2012 11:32 AM

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Bahrain eyes Smurfs theme park to revive tourism

Gulf state will spend US$5m on theme park in bid to reignite tourism after violent crackdown on protests

Bahrain eyes Smurfs theme park to revive tourism
(Getty Images)

Bahrain is aiming to reignite its tourism sector after months of civil unrest by building a US$5m theme park based on The Smurfs, the popular Belgian children’s cartoon centred around a group of small blue fictional creatures, it was reported at the weekend.

Earlier this year, hotels in the Gulf kingdom's capital Manama reported a 112 percent rise in occupancy rates to 45 percent, according to latest figures released by STR Global, and authorities hope to capitalise on this with their latest ambitious project.

The BHD2m (US$5.27m) Smurf village has been given the go ahead by Bahrain authorities and will be built on an 8,350 sqm site in West Riffa at the Prince Khalifa bin Salman Grand Garden, it was reported by Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News.

The development will include 30 Smurf houses measuring around 50 sqm and which can accommodate up to 20 children each.

In addition, the report said there will also be a 250 sqm Papa Smurf house and a 220 sqm castle, which will home to the Smurf’s nemesis Gargamel. Plans will also include a café, aquarium, stables and a souvenir shop.

"We will provide investors with the utmost support and will work with them to get the park ready in a fast and efficient manner, which includes helping them get the required approvals from bodies concerned," Central Municipal Council and chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab was quoted as saying.

"Similar projects exist in a number of other countries and the chance to bring it to Bahrain should make everyone proud, since such projects don't come along often," he added.

A Hollywood live action 3D film about the adventures of the fictional characters, which were created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford in 1968, proved popular in the region and was the fourth biggest movie in the UAE in the last 12 months.

According to official figures, 325,245 people went to see it and it generated AED13.95m (US$$3.8m) in revenue for Sony Pictures.

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