By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Senior Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute

Theme parks have a huge impact on a country’s economy and property sector
The latest addition to a city swelling with activity alternatives is the IMG Worlds of Adventure. It cost more than Dh3.6 billion. Tobe labelled “the world’s largest indoor theme park” is no idle boast with the complex covering over 1.5 million square feet, around 20 times the size of the pitch at London’s Emirates Stadium.
The next months will see an even bigger development which, built at a cost nearing Dh10 billion, will include LEGOLAND.
Dubai has always considered tourism a lucrative pillar to the economy, but the latest additions to its suite of attractions is taking its capability to satisfy the appetite of those seeking world-class entertainment to a whole new level.
The new theme parks will play a key role in ensuring the emirate’s target of 20 million visitors by 2020 will be achieved.
The reason why I love the latest theme parks is because I am excited at the effect these initiatives will have on the economy and more specifically, the property industry.
The true value of amusement projects lies in the long-term advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities
Theme parks make an enormous contribution to the economy. The war for providing entrepreneurial and job opportunities is waged on a global battleground, and the amusement industry is one weapon Dubai can employ.
Being a global growth industry, participation cannot be ignored. Consider the data from the TEA / AECOM 2015 Theme Index and Museum Index: In 2015, there were 420 million visits to attractions run by the Top 10 global theme park groups, up by 7.2 percent; 236 million visits to the Top 25 amusement/ theme parks worldwide, up by 5.4 percent; 146 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in North America, up by 5.9 percent; 131 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/ theme parks in Asia-Pacific, up by 6.9 percent; 61 million visits to the Top 20 amusement/theme parks in Europe, Middle East and Africa, up by 2.8 percent; 29 million visits to the Top 20 waterparks worldwide, up by 3.7 percent.
In a world struggling to generate any form of impressive economic growth, the growth within this industry is laudable. Obviously, its job creation potential is staggering.
The true value of amusement projects lies in the long-term advantages of employing people and creating commercial activities to develop a unique capability to entertain the families and youth of the region and beyond.
The local market offers significant opportunity. The GCC has one of the youngest populations in the world. Approximately 50 per cent of its population is below 25 years. The possibility exists for the construction of the only mega family entertainment destination in over 2,500,000 square kilometres of territory. From an economic point of view, the provision of memorable entertainment experiences must have a multiplier effect on the economy as a whole.
Population growth is critical to any real estate industry, and growth due to an increase in investment and employment opportunities that a successful foray into the entertainment industry generates would be substantial. With an abundance of affordable housing in the coming years, much of it located within easy distance of the theme parks, investment in the amusement industry can have huge benefits for the property downstream.
Dubai has a competitive advantage as it is uniquely placed. With its infrastructure, stability, cultural diversity and reputation as a leisure destination, a development that is a destination of choice by not only GCC families and youth but also visitors from all over the world will play an important role in building a vibrant and resilient economy and, of course, property industry.
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