Dubai’s new theme parks will encourage the development of more hotels and retail outlets in the Jebel Ali area after their scheduled opening in October next year, the project’s operator said.
Vinit Shah, Dubai Parks and Resorts’ chief destination management officer, drew a comparison with Orlando, Florida.
"We are pulling the city to one end, and as we have seen in Orlando, the land near the periphery of the theme parks will benefit with new hotels, residential areas and retail," he said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a media tour of the area on Thursday.
The overall construction of the 25 million-square-foot park is about 17 per cent complete, including the underground and facilities work, the company said. Completion rates vary for individual segments, such as the engineering and rides works, which are 40 per cent finished.
“We are confident of meeting the deadline as vast areas such as parking and landscaping will not be done until towards the end,” Mr Shah said.
In the completed project, there will be parking space for 8,845 cars. By comparison, The Dubai Mall has parking capacity for about 14,000 cars, but Dubai Parks and Resorts executives said their site had space for more parking.
Dubai Parks and Resorts expects to attract 5.5 million guests in 2017.
Construction of a second phase of the theme park complex will include a mall, more retail outlets and hotels. Work will begin once demand for the parks is clearer after the opening in 2016.
“We have space to grow when we need to,” said Brian Machamer, the senior director of parks operations.
The first phase includes three theme parks that will feature 35 retail outlets and 20 food and beverage outlets as well as 65 restaurants and retail outlets at the Riverland attraction.
About 7,800 workers from 27 contracting firms are on the site giving shape to the complex, which includes the Motiongate, Legoland and Bollywood parks and a four-star Lapita hotel managed by Marriott.
The Dh10.5 billion complex will include outdoor and indoor rides, indoor animation, live music, and other attractions including the 800-seat Rajmahal theatre, another venue based on the Step Up film franchise and a Smurfs village.
Off the sandy and bumpy truck roads winding through the area, men in yellow hard hats continued to work the cranes and level the grounds in the late afternoon on Thursday when the media tour ended.
A river of sand demarcated by red and white barriers marked the 800-metre Riverland canal, a retail and dining walkway modelled on themes including a 17th century French village and 1950s Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
There will be 27 rides and activities at the Motiongate attraction, 30 at Legoland, including the water park, and 16 inside Bollywood Parks. Dubai Parks and Resorts estimates a visitor could need 18 hours to see all three parks.
The Roads and Transport Authority is next month expected to award tenders worth about Dh250 million for the development of roads and bridges connecting the site to Sheikh Zayed Road, according to the company’s executives.
More connecting infrastructure, including a link between Sheikh Zayed Road and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road, are expected to be in place by the opening date. A Metro station with a covered walkway will also connect Sheikh Zayed Road to the parks.
Shares of the DFM-listed Dubai Parks and Resorts last week breached for the first time their introductory Dh1 price, rising 2.9 per cent to Dh1.06 on Thursday. The company’s initial public offering was in November.
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter