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Imprudent: expert responds to Abu Dhabi’s theme park plans

Imprudent: expert responds to Abu Dhabi’s theme park plans

When it comes to Abu Dhabi Adventure World, ITPS president Dennis Speigel tells Kippreport that the time is just not right for a project of this magnitude.

December 14, 2011 3:21 by

Over the couple of months, Abu Dhabi has been a strong topic of conversation among the Kipp team. We can’t help it. The capital has been making news for some of the decisions it’s taken in the last quarter of the year.

Back in October, although it reiterated that every intention is still there to go ahead with the projects, Abu Dhabi announced its decision to delay the construction of its museum. Then in November, we talked about the job cuts experienced across the country, which most notably included the capital’s clean energy champion, Masdar.

Then early this December, we looked at these necessary steps backward that Abu Dhabi has taken, looking at its projects with a more pragmatic perspective and cutting down where it feels it can. This was then followed by the news that there were job cuts at the Ferrari World theme park. The company says the redundancies were due to a schedule change. And it’s not a long stretch to see that the schedule changes to theme park openings is due to a lower than expected visitor footfall.

So considering there’s been a general housekeeping and tightening of belts across Abu Dhabi’s projects, you can imagine our surprise to see reports that Abu Dhabi is planning to open a Dhs3.4 billion theme park. And so this Tuesday, we wrote about Abu Dhabi’s not so amusing amusement park plan, where our own Eva Fernandes discussed this head scratcher of an announcement.

And this Wednesday, we received an official letter response from the President of the International Theme Park Services, Inc (ITPS), Dennis Speigel regarding Abu Dhabi’s decision to go ahead with building Adventure World.

“In short, Ms. Fernandes was spot-on in her article. A venture of this nature at this time and at the proposed expense is not prudent. Projects such as Ferrari World, Al-Ain Wildlife Park & Resort, or the proposed Universal Studios and Sea World parks, were all ill-conceived and never had a remote possibility of happening – at least not successfully. Had the proposed projects been built, they would have been disasters of enormous proportion.”

ITPS is a US-based consulting company specialising in analysing, developing, designing and operating theme parks around the world.

What about you, dear Kipper? Do you think going ahead with building a theme park at this shaky economic times is ill-conceived or a risky move that will eventually pay off?

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  1. Jake on December 15, 2011 11:31 am

    With Emirati unemployment at an all time high, this could be a great job creator for the Emiratization initiative

  2. Bob on December 15, 2011 2:26 pm

    Any such project in UAE would never work if it is not in the right context. Very often projects are chosen based on prestige or ego and not on economics. The infrastructure around any park, the planning on how, where and when the customers will come from as well as price settings are key for any project to succeed. UAE has good tourist potential but unfortunately under exploited because of lack of real professionals working in settings the fundamentals right. Dubai has killed the beach fronts, who were a major attraction for tourists. Now there are only private hotel beach or built beach. Tourists come to Dubai to enjoy the sun and walk on the beach. Shopping in Dubai is now part of the past. Visiting down town can take place in evenings.

  3. Neil on December 17, 2011 10:10 am

    There are just not enough local (resident) visitors to sustain projects of this magnitude. Even the GCC as a whole does not have enough.

    Relying on international tourists will not cut it, the primary feeder MUST be local.

  4. zouzou on December 18, 2011 4:43 pm

    There has laways been critisim of the UAE. When Emirates was launched, when burj al Arb was built, etc…
    At the end it proved that it delived and it kept growing. The crisis has hit the UAE like any country in the world. But this crisis will end, and the UAE will develop and grow much faster.

  5. Dubious on December 18, 2011 8:27 pm

    With actual lack of laws to protect investors….. doubt UAE has a future. Too many people came and got burned. They will not return and they do warn others not to come. A part from some dictatures and some money laundring, I sincerly doubt any genuine business will ever develop with the actual situation. Although I wish authorities will make up their mind and choose a clear direction for the country.


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