Abu Dhabi tourism chief Mohamed Al Mubarak says he sees Saudi Arabia's plans as 'complementary attraction'
Abu Dhabi's tourism chief does not see Saudi Arabia as a rival despite its recent emergence into the leisure and entertainment industry.
Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, said leisure plans included in Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 would be "complementary" to the UAE capital's ambition to become a global attraction.
Asked in a CNN interview about where Saudi Arabia's plans worry him, Al Mubarak said: “Not at all, I truly see it to be a complementary attraction.
"I think the more people we can get to the region and the more attractions that we can have, I mean, between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi that’s a one hour flight, that’s nothing, and most people even right now drive from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh and so I think it will definitely complement the overall experience here in the UAE but at the same time I think what we have accomplished here in the UAE is quite immense," he added.
In May, Saudi Arabia said key projects include 16 entertainment complexes, an aquatic centre and three other huge leisure hubs - all part of a bid to ensure three Saudi cities make it into the global top 100 for quality of life.
The project, dubbed "Quality of Life Program 2020," is in part designed to encourage wealthy young citizens to spend more of their leisure time in the kingdom, where more than half the population is below the age of 25.
Al Mubarak was speaking just days after the launch the new $1 billion Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi theme park on Yas Island on Wednesday, the latest in a string of attractions on the island.
The 1.65 million sq. ft park includes immersive environments and 29 rides featuring popular DC Super Heroes characters such as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, alongside classic Warner Bros characters such as Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones.
With the opening, Warner Bros Abu Dhabi joins theme parks Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and CLYMB. A fifth theme park, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, is scheduled to open in 2022.
In the CNN interview, Al Mubarak said: “DC has been a huge part of my life. And anybody’s lives where DC has touched, it’s made us better people. Kids will come and they’ll try these fantastic rides but at the end of the day they will get a message. A message of hope, a message of belonging, a message of coming together, and I think if you can have fun and have a strong message at the end of the day that’s perfect.”
Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros chairman and CEO, revealed why he chose Abu Dhabi for the theme park.
He said: “We went to the Emirates Palace and we saw the models of Ferrari world of The Louvre. The execution has been incredible. The folks from Warner Brothers and the folks from Miral have worked side by side, day by day and you can see it, the level of detail.
"While we have a lot of conversations in a lot of different places with a lot of different people we choose our partners very carefully we thought this was the right group of people and that we felt like we can work with and its really proving to be true.”
Al Mubarak added: “Warner Brothers Abu Dhabi is just another major attraction that is engulfed in the Abu Dhabi tourism aspect. So, you have museums, you have theme parks, you have shopping malls, the list goes on. We’re adding a major attraction every year for the next five years, whether it’s a theme park, or a museum, or a shopping or entertainment destination.”