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|27 October, 2016

Exclusive: Dubai Holding, Universal Studios confirm Dubailand theme park no longer going ahead

Theme park attraction started construction in 2008 and was scheduled to open in 2015.

The Universal Studios gate erected in 2008 at the entrance to the site planned for the theme park in Dubailand. This photo, taken in September 2016, shows the Universal Studios logo has since been removed.

The Universal Studios gate erected in 2008 at the entrance to the site planned for the theme park in Dubailand. This photo, taken in September 2016, shows the Universal Studios logo has since been removed.

27 October 2016
By Shane McGinley

Plans for a Universal Studios theme park in Dubailand have been scrapped, partners behind the project, which began construction in 2008 but stalled as a result of the global financial crisis, confirmed to Zawya.

The seven million square foot Universal Studios Dubailand theme park broke ground in July 2008 and was originally scheduled for completion in December 2010, according to a report by HotelierMiddleEast.com

“While we are always open to opportunities in the region, we’ve stepped away from this specific project,” a media spokesperson at Universal Parks and Resorts in Orlando said in an emailed statement to Zawya when asked for an update on the status of the project.

Work on the Dubailand masterplan, which was due to include nearly 20 separate theme park attractions and be twice the size of the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, stalled in the midst of the slowdown in the Dubai property market in 2009 and the Universal Studios Dubailand opening date was pushed back to 2015.

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Images taken at the site earlier this month show the Universal Studios logo has been removed from the iconic gate build at the entrance, with nothing but sand running behind it into the horizon.

Dubai Holding, the development arm of the emirate’s ruler and the local partner in the project, also confirmed on Wednesday it was no longer in talks with the American theme park operator to build the attraction.

Dubai Holding, the global investment holding company, confirmed today that it is no longer in discussions with Universal Parks & Resorts concerning the development of a theme park in Dubai,” the company said in an emailed statement.

The company said it was focusing on other projects right now. “Dubai Holding is focused on developing the mega-project Jumeirah Central, which will be the future all-season, transit orientated urban centre and Mall of the World, a major retail and leisure destination. The Group continues to develop its existing tourism offering, such as Global Village, which attracts more than five million visitors each year.”

Theme park boom

While this attraction is not going ahead, Dubai has a number of large theme park projects under development. The IMG Worlds of Attraction, which includes Marvel, Cartoon Network and dinosaur-themed rides, opened in August, while the Dubai Parks and Resorts, which includes five separate areas, including the world’s first Bollywood theme park, is set to open in November 15 this year.

Work is also underway on a Six Flags park near Jebel Ali, which the developer said would include the “world’s biggest rollercoaster ride in Dubai”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Local developer Al Ahli Holding Group has also started work on a 20th Century Fox World Theme Park and Resort, which is set to open in 2020 and will include attractions themed around Fox brands such as Ice Age, Rio, Planet of the Apes, Aliens, Predator, Night at the Museum, Titanic and The Simpsons.

Meanwhile in the Abu Dhabi emirate, Yas Island developer Miral Asset Management started construction on a Warner Bros theme park, which is set to open in 2018. It will be built near the Ferrari World theme park, which was developed by Aldar and opened in 2010.

© Zawya 2016