Bahrain's Southern Governorate could be turned into an ‘Orlando of the Gulf’ if renowned companies are allowed to set up theme and amusement parks in the area, councillors have said.

Southern Municipal Council members, led by chairman Bader Al Tamimi, have appealed to officials from various ministries, including Tourism, Municipalities Affairs and Agriculture, Housing and Urban Planning, to convene meetings with them to map out a blueprint for the future.

Orlando in Florida overflows with theme parks featuring high-octane rides besides family-friendly amusement parks, water parks and safari zoos.

Welcoming around 10 million visitors every year, the US city delivers nonstop fun and excitement for all ages. Leading the charge is Disney World with four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), and more than 20 onsite resorts to choose from.

“We already have massive regional attractions in the south of the country that include the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), Gravity Indoor Skydiving, Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve and Bilaj Al Jazayer besides soon-to-open Exhibition World Bahrain and the new sports city,” said Mr Al Tamimi.

“However, there is a far bigger potential for the popular area that could see it turned into the new Orlando of the Gulf,” he added.

“Concerned government parties need to sit down with the council to map out a blueprint for the future that could see major theme and amusement parks coming to the country.

“We have to work alongside other GCC countries as a unit to attract investment projects, but that doesn’t mean we cannot have our distinctive and exclusive venues of interest.”

He said it would be a dream come true for Arabs to have Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld in their region.

“We had earlier planned to bring in Disney World and Universal Studios, but things didn’t progress as intended,” said Mr Al Tamimi.

“Such projects will boost local employment, besides offering higher salaries for employees and increasing government revenues,” he added.

“The market is competitive and Gulf is attractive and we should seek to host some of Orlando’s renowned attractions.

“It is not a dream. It is something that the country can do with a proper vision propelling it into the future.”

The councillors, who are now on an interim status, are still waiting for answers on projects proposed earlier such as the Bollywood City.

They had also sought permission to allow trekkers and campers inside Al Areen, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)’s Capitol Wrestling Centre and the Bahrain International Village.

Deputy Premier, Infrastructure Minister and Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company board chairman Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa had earlier indicated that several tourism projects were in the pipeline as the country aimed to boost its revenue.

They include the five-star Jumeirah Gulf of Bahrain Resort and Spa set to open later this year, two waterfront hotels Avani and Tivoli by 2024 at Al Jazayer, and Mantis Bahrain Hawar Island expected to be launched next year.

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