Marvel superheroes find home in Dubai with theme park

The Avengers, Spiderman and X-Men are all set to take up permanent residence in the UAE next year when a Marvel Comics theme park opens in Dubai.

City of Arabia developement will include retail outlets, restaurants and a range of interactive experiences featuring Marvel characters. Above, a man dressed as Spiderman poses at Universal Studios Japan. AFP
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The Avengers, Spider-Man and the X-Men are among a gang of heroes set to unleash their super-powers in the UAE next year when a Marvel Comics theme park opens in Dubai.

Marvel Adventure, a new indoor family entertainment centre, is scheduled to open its doors to superheroes and comic-book fanatics by the end of next year in the City of Arabia development on Emirates Road.

It will include retail outlets, restaurants and a range of interactive experiences featuring Marvel characters such as Captain America and the Hulk.

The 1.2 million square foot theme park is being built by Ilyas and Mustafa Galadari Group (IMG), the developers of City of Arabia, which is part of the sprawling Dubailand development on the edge of the city.

The planned Marvel development will be dwarfed by Abu Dhabi’s Ferrari World, the world’s biggest indoor theme park.

“We are pleased to collaborate with Marvel for our multi-faceted themed family entertainment destination,” said Ilyas Galadari and Mustafa Galadari, of IMG Group.

“This will be one part of the region’s largest temperature controlled entertainment destinations that IMG is developing which is sure to be a strategic landmark in Dubai, appealing to the region as well as other parts of the world.”

The announcement comes in the middle of a blockbuster summer for superhero films at cinemas across the UAE.

“The park will do beyond well,” said John Chahine, the general manager for Italia Film Company, which distributed The Avengers film in the UAE.

“People are getting more familiar with the Marvel characters,” he added.

“Not only will the park attract tourists, it will combine with a very strong base of customers who reside in the UAE.”

The Avengers had the biggest industry opening ever in the Middle East and the film is already one of the most successful of all time in terms of box-office takings.

It has made more than Dh23 million (Dh6.26m) in the UAE since its launch last month, according to distributors, selling more than 500,000 tickets.

The Amazing Spider-Man is also opening in cinemas this summer, followed by Marvel’s Iron Man 3 in May next year and Thor 2 later the same year.

“I think the park is great for the [film] industry,” said Andy Fordham, the technical and digital film director at Gulf Film, a film-distribution company and parent company for Grand Cinemas, one of the region’s leading cinema chains.

“The UAE has one of the highest attendances per head for cinema attendance and that has to translate well into this park concept,” he added.

The park is hoping to attract more than 10,000 visitors per day and is expected to provide a boost to hotels in the area.

“Following the outstanding global and local box office success of Marvel’s The Avengers and the strong affinity for Marvel in the UAE, we are thrilled to be working with the IMG Group to bring some of Marvel’s most popular characters to kids and families across Dubai,” said Simon Philips, the president of Marvel Entertainment International.

City of Arabia, which was put on hold for years, is planned to be an entertainment, commercial and residential development. It had originally due to open in last year and include the world’s largest shopping mall and a dinosaur theme park.

The development was pitted to be part of the wider 278 sq km Dubailand development, originally intended to include a series of sprawling theme parks such as Universal Studios and Six Flags.

More than 40 projects were planned for the development, which was launched in October 2003 but only a handful are under development.

IMG did not disclose the cost of building the Marvel theme park but announced last month it had raised financing from Al Hilal Bank and Mashreq to fund the project.

The details of planned rides and experiences were also not disclosed. “It’s great that projects like this are happening again in Dubai,” said Ben Caddy, the managing director behind Middle East Film and Comic Con, which launched its first event this year in Dubai and welcomed 15,000 visitors.

“It’s the type of thing that will get global coverage and recognition,” Mr Caddy added.

“Marvel is something we have grown up with. We know these characters like the back of our hand and they speak to every nationality.”

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