Dubai brings Lego to life

Friday 10/07/2015
Legoland theme park, the first in the Middle East and the seventh worldwide.

Dubai - Already home to the world’s tallest tower and hundreds of hotels of all shapes and sizes, Dubai is upping the tourism ante with a Legoland theme park, the first in the Middle East and the sev­enth worldwide.
The park is to open in 2016. It is expected to add more flavour to the city’s smorgasbord of visitor accommodations with the report­ed Lego-themed hotel, which was announced in May by a senior ex­ecutive at Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR), the leisure and entertain­ment arm of state-owned developer Meraas Holding.
Media reports quoting Paul La France, chief projects officer of DPR, said the hotel would most likely open in 2018 as part of Legoland Dubai’s expansion strategy.
Lego, the Danish toymaker fa­mous for its colourful building bricks, is considered the fastest-growing toy company in the world. In 2014, it posted net profits of $1.05 billion, up more than 15% from a year prior.
The company has a robust brand equity that spans toys, video games, theme parks, hotels and a block­buster movie, which netted $468.8 million globally in 2014.
But just as Dubai residents pre­pared to shout “Awesome!”, DPR clarified that plans for a Lego-themed hotel in Dubai have yet to be finalised.
“As part of our ongoing relation­ship with Merlin Entertainments plc [which operates Legoland parks], we are in early discussions about a possible Legoland hotel,” the com­pany spokesman said. “We hope that we can have a Legoland hotel as part of the destination but there is no agreement in place.”
The spokesman added that the only hotel confirmed to be built in DPR’s 2.35-million-sq.-metre leisure complex is Lapita, a 503-room Poly­nesian-themed property to be man­aged by Marriott.
The construction of Legoland Dubai and other amusement parks in the emirate strengthens the ar­gument for the opening of themed hotels in the UAE as a way to lure a wider segment of travellers.
According to a recent report on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) hotels market by Colliers International, combining parks with lodging options can generate sig­nificantly larger returns than theme parks alone.
“By having visitors stay within the vicinity, the theme park destination can extend visitors’ length of stay significantly, as well as ensure the tendency of repeat visits,” the report said.
Analysts at Colliers stressed that despite the number of amusement and entertainment centres operat­ing or under construction in MENA, the concept of having lodging facili­ties within or close to the destina­tion remains underdeveloped.
When it opens in the fourth quar­ter of 2016, Legoland Dubai, which covers an area of approximately 280,000 sq. metres, will join Lego-themed parks in Billund, Denmark; Windsor, England; Carlsbad, Cali­fornia; Günzburg, Germany; Winter Haven, Florida; and Johor, Malaysia.
Geared towards families with chil­dren aged 2-12, Legoland Dubai will feature a themed water park; more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions; as well as 15,000 struc­tures made from more than 60 mil­lion Lego bricks.
Legoland Dubai will be part of DPR’s $2.86-billion development in the Jebel Ali area, which will fea­ture two other amusement parks: the Hollywood-inspired Motiongate and the Indian cinema-themed Bol­lywood Parks.
In its first year of full operation, DPR expects the parks to collec­tively attract 6.7 million ticketed visits, helping Dubai achieve its goal of welcoming 20 million visitors by 2020 and increasing tourism’s con­tribution to the economy. Last year, Dubai hotels hosted more than 11.6 million guests, a year-on-year in­crease of 5.6%.
The theme parks will be impor­tant employment generators for the emirate, contributing 5,000 jobs in the tourism sector, both directly and indirectly.
“The building of the resort is a hugely ambitious project — it is the first time globally that three theme parks have ever been opened at the same time, along with a resort and dedicated retail and hospitality zone.
As such we will need the work­force to both build and operate it,” the spokesman said.
DPR has 27 contractors with a to­tal of 6,500 staff working on site to build the resort. Once the theme parks open, resort management will require significant staffing, from op­erations and park staff to marketing teams, performers, security, chefs and servers.