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CEO of DPR talks about the upcoming theme park

Due to be inaugurated in nine months, Dubai Parks and Resorts will be the largest integrated theme park destination in the region. Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, CEO of Dubai Parks and Resorts, talks to Construction Business News ME about the challenge of delivering a megaproject                        

Spread across 25 million sq.ft of land and located close to the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai, Dubai Parks and Resort (DPR) will comprise three theme parks – Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, and Legoland Dubai – together with Legoland Water Park. Once completed the projected revenue for the first full year of operation in 2017 is AED2.4 billion, with an aim of generating over 5,000 jobs in the sector directly and indirectly by 2017. Around 1,000 jobs will be reserved for Emiratis as part of the firm’s Emiratisation efforts.

The parks will feature interactive rides, live shows, concerts and open-air festivals, while the master plan also includes retail space, Riverland Dubai, and hospitality project Lapita Hotel.

Raed Kajoor Al Nuaimi, CEO of DPR,  says that the concept was inspired by many theme parks, global institutions and creative landmarks. “Motiongate Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai were inspired by global entertainment and two of the world’s most revered film industries: Hollywood and Bollywood.”

Al Nuaimi explains: “There might be numerous theme parks across the globe, what makes DPR unique is that it was designed specifically to showcase the best from East to West.”

Construction update

The project was announced in late 2012 with groundbreaking in early 2014, and construction is scheduled to be completed before the end of the third quarter of 2016.

Al Nuaimi says: “Due to the sheer size of the development we have chosen to partner with multiple contractors, consultants and architects, rather than just one – collaborating with the world’s best and well-known names in construction and entertainment.”

Overall attraction design and construction management is being led by Hill International and Samsung SCT.  DPR currently has over 30 contractors on site, with a mix of both international and local developers such as Brookfield Multiplex, Kier, Laing O’Rourke, Besix-Orascom and ARCO.

“Building DPR has been a massive and ambitious project– it is the first time in the world that three theme parks, a water park, and a hotel, as well as a retail and dining district are opening together,” he says. “We have required huge amounts of resources and manpower to build and develop this project.”

At the moment the DPR management team is over 200 strong and is supported by over 30 contractors and close to 11,000 workers on site.

Challenges overcome

Building this multi-themed entertainment destination on millions of square feet of land in the desert has definitely had its challenges, says Al Nuaimi.

The challenge for this particular project had to do with delays in other global theme park destinations as well as projects in the planning and delivery phases, as industry resources in terms of qualified suppliers and talent are stretched. “We’ve been fortunate, however, to put together a very experienced in-house team and group of suppliers that are capable of delivering quality products and services in line with our programme.”

He adds: “As with any project of this magnitude, whether it be importing hundreds of plant species, recruiting the right talent or employing the latest smart technology we need to ensure that each step is employed with detail and precision.”

The grand opening of DPR has been scheduled for October 2016 and Al Nuaimi is confident the deadline will be achieved, as construction is currently on schedule.

As of the end of September 2015, 71% of the individual projects’ infrastructure and 50% of resort wide infrastructure development and construction had been completed. In addition, 63% of the ride engineering and manufacturing, which is being done off site, was complete, with rides starting to arrive on site.

He says: “In October, we announced that our first roller coaster was being installed at Legoland Dubai. While work on our two largest buildings, the DreamWorks building in Motiongate Dubai and the Rajmahal Theatre at Bollywood Parks Dubai, is moving rapidly and are visible to those who drive by our resort.”

Sustainability and safety

Once fully functional DPR will feature three theme parks and a water park with over 100 rides and attractions. Motiongate Dubai has partnered with DreamWorks Animation, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Studios to feature 27 rides and attractions across five themed zones. Bollywood Park Dubai will have 16 rides, Legoland Dubai will include more than 40 rides and finally Legoland Water Park will include 20 slides and attractions, including a half a million gallon wave pool.

With so many rides in the pipeline, Al Nuaimi assures that safety has been a paramount concern. “Throughout our design, manufacturing, and construction phases we are working closely with our partners to ensure every ride component is rigorously tested according to the highest international industry standards.”

Once the rides are shipped to Dubai each attraction will then undergo a stringent series of tests both before the park opens and then on a daily basis to ensure safety.

All of the rides will be factory certified by TUV SUD, an international provider of testing and safety certification. The certification will take place prior to shipping and once again at the end of installation, testing and commissioning.

Al Nuaimi says: “We recognise that by integrating sound environmental, health, and safety management practices by preventing or minimising the environmental impact of our operations; managing and operating our facilities to maximise safety, promote energy efficiency, and protect the environment as well as meeting or exceeding all applicable environmental, health and safety legal requirements, as well as the requirements of ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001.[1][2]

ISO 14001 is the principal management system that helps to control environmental aspects, reduce impacts and ensure legal compliance, while OHSAS 18001 is an Occupation Health and Safety Assessment Series for health and safety management systems.

Leisure and entertainment destination

Leisure and entertainment is a very broad category as it includes everything from small family entertainment centres and cinemas to museums and large scale international theme parks.

Capital requirements and risk profiles vary significantly based on the asset class, size and scale of the project, product positioning or experience, location, support infrastructure and the market demand for the attraction.

Al Nuaimi says that leisure and entertainment developments can certainly be profitable if the concept is backed by sound fundamentals such as strong market demand, intelligent use of capital and efficient operations amongst others. “The wider economic impact also needs to be given due consideration especially in case of large capital intensive projects such as theme parks; the overall economic impact is much greater than the direct income generated by the project –  indirect job creation, demand for ancillary facilities such as hotels, restaurants, retail, airlines, car rental companies and so on.”

DPR has also been designed to primarily serve the regions that are within a seven hour flight time from Dubai, and with the range of attractions is designed to appeal to everyone, especially families with children.

Inspired by the leadership’s vision of positioning Dubai as a recognised global tourist destination and Tourism Vision 2020, DPR aims to capture the significant growth in the tourism sector as well as contribute to it by creating the region’s largest year-round integrated theme park resort.

Al Nuaimi adds: “We seek to pave the way for the next generation specialising in the industry, as well as lead in the development of the theme park sector in the UAE and the Middle East at large.”

Click here to view images of the site under construction. 

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