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Wed 7 Feb 2007 04:53 PM

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Someone's taking the Mickey in Bahrain

Disney denies rumours that GCC investors are in talks to bring Disneyland to Bahrain.

Walt Disney Co. has denied that it is in talks to build a theme park in Bahrain, following a newspaper report saying Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was negotiating to build an $8 billion Disney park on the island nation.

The project purportedly would be based on Disney's theme parks and could be called "Disney Bahrain," Bahrain's al-Waqt newspaper said, citing an unnamed source.

But a Disney spokeswoman said the company "is not in talks to build a theme park in Bahrain."

Alwaleed, the world's eighth-richest man, is talking to investors including Kuwait Finance House, the Gulf's second largest Islamic bank by market value, and Bahraini institutions, the paper said.

Alwaleed indirectly owns 10 percent of Disneyland Paris operator Euro Disney, and his Rotana Audio Visual Co., signed a deal in November to distribute Walt Disney products across the Middle East and North Africa.

A spokeswoman for the prince could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Kuwait Finance House in Bahrain declined to either confirm or deny the report.

A spokeswoman for Bahrain's Economic Development Board and a spokesman for the state-owned Mumtalakat Holding Company said they had not heard of the deal.

Disney has 11 theme parks worldwide and has said it wants to build one in Shanghai to tap growing wealth created by China's economic boom.

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