Madame Tussauds is finally set to open its first Middle East branch in Dubai, and inside is an impressive mix of the who’s who of the celebrity world.
The National got a sneak peek inside the world-famous venue which is known for its lifelike wax figures of prominent personalities.
The attraction is located on Bluewaters Island, in walking distance from Ain Dubai, and will be opening to the public on October 14. For those planning to drive over, it’s best to park in section eight of B1’s blue area. Take an escalator up and you’ll immediately spot the attraction.
The entrance pays tribute to the Middle East, complete with fake palm trees and wallpaper with a desert setting. The first wax figure, found right at the entrance, is of Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan. He’s in truly diverse company though, with waxworks of Lady Gaga and Maya Diab also by the ticketing counter.
World leaders and photo opportunities
The display begins with a greeting from several world leaders and personalities, from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China's President Xi Jinping. Visitors can get a snap of themselves having tea with Queen Elizabeth II, or sit opposite Donald Trump, who is distracted by his phone, while Melania Trump stands by his side.
The museum will be divided into six zones in total: leaders; fashion; film and media; Bollywood; sports and music. In the fashion section you can walk a runway with Vogue's Anna Wintour judging your look, take a picture with Victoria Beckham or perch by a pearl swing next to Kylie Jenner.
Over in the film section, you'll find Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s sharing a room with Vin Diesel, Spider-Man and Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games, while Tom Cruise rides a motor bike and Jackie Chan strikes a pose.
Middle Eastern stars at Madame Tussauds Dubai
One of the biggest appeals of Madame Tussauds Dubai is that it features 16 figures from the Middle East, with many being notable personalities. You can catch a glimpse of these figures throughout the museum, such as in the Media section which features Dubai-born social media star Bin Baz and radio presenter Kris Fade.
One of the best parts about Madam Tussauds Dubai is the effort taken to allow guests to interact with the wax statues. The staff encourage you to get close to the waxworks and are more than happy to take photos for you.
At several sections, interactive elements are used to put you right in the middle of the action. In the Bollywood zone, for instance, guests can meet superstars Ranbir Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan, and if you stand in the right place, you can see background dancers pop up behind you on a screen.
Meanwhile, over at the Sports section, you can kick a ball with Lionel Messi and Ronaldo. There, cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli also make an appearance, as does UAE weightlifter Amna Al Haddad. There’s even a fake weight next to her, in case you want to show off your muscles.
The visit lasts about an hour and a half and ends at a gift shop, where it’s possible to pick up souvenirs, including a little Academy Award (go on, you’ve earned it).
All in all, the wax figures look extremely lifelike, and it's hard to believe some of them aren't real. It makes sense, as each figure at Madame Tussauds is made by expert sculptors using the same artistry techniques as founder Marie Tussaud.
It can take an artist up to 12 weeks to create one statue. They have to document about 500 precise body measurements and even insert real hair strand by strand to create the model, which can cost up to Dh700,000 ($190,605), depending on the detail required.
A top tip one helpful staff member shared was to always take a picture from the direction the wax statue is looking in, that way it really does look like they’re staring right at you.
There will be a chance to get a sneak peek inside the museum on Friday and Saturday, before the official opening on Thursday, October 14, as special preview tickets are now on sale.
Adult tickets cost Dh135, tickets for children aged 3 to 11 cost Dh110 and children under the age of 3 go free.
More information is available at madametussauds.com/dubai