Battle over Angry Birds theme park

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Battle over Angry Birds theme park

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Abu Dhabi and its lesser-known sibling, Ras Al Khaimah, are battling it out with Doha to get the rights to build the largest Angry Birds theme park in the world.


While Dubai may not be a contender, it has other ambitious plans in the works, including IMG Worlds of Adventure (a working title). The theme park is set to be the largest temperature-controlled indoor theme park, and will open in the long-delayed Dubailand development. Zones dedicated to animatronic dinosaurs and Marvel comic and Cartoon Network characters are in the works.


Dubai has long been obsessed with unusual theme parks. One of the city's landmark tourist destinations is Aquaventure at the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm island. The Shark Attack ride -- whereby visitors slide through a shark-filled aquarium -- is particularly popular.


Dubai has also been an innovator when it comes to creating adventure parks within retail settings. Ski Dubai, a 22,500 square-meter indoor ski resort, is a a feature inside the Mall of the Emirates.


Not content to reside in Dubai's adventurous shadow, in 2010 Abu Dhabi opened Ferrari World, the first Ferrari theme park and the largest indoor park in the world. Features include a children's speed-racing school and Formula Rossa, the fastest roller coaster in... (you guessed it) the world.


Just next door to Ferrari World, visitors can cool off at Yas Waterworld, the largest water park in Abu Dhabi.


Ras al-Khaimah -- Abu Dhabi and Dubai's often overlooked neighbor -- is no stranger to wacky tourist attractions. Ice Land Water Park, which claims to be the largest theme park in the region, offers visitors a a variety of rain showers, including ones that double as a disco and another as a soccer pitch. There is also a fictional backstory to explain all the penguin sculptures (the penguins were moored at the park after climate change melted their home).


Jordan, meanwhile, is hoping to corner the geek market with the Red Sea Astrarium, a $1 billion, 184-acre resort that is partially dedicated to Star Trek. The sci-fi portion of the park will feature a space-flight adventure.


















Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Doha are competing to for the rights to build the Middle East's first Angry Birds theme park.
Though the details aren't finalized, the park will also be the biggest in the world.
Dubai is also planning to open IMG World of Adventure, the world's biggest indoor theme park in December.
The new park will feature animatronic dinosaurs, which walk and move around.



(CNN) -- Those countries in the Middle East that have been spared political upheaval find themselves enmeshed in a different sort of battle of late. As Qatar, the UAE and Jordan split what's left of the region's tourists, each is fighting to pull in the lion's share. Their weapon of choice? Theme parks.
Currently, Abu Dhabi and its scrappier sibling, Al Ain, are duking it out with Doha for the rights to build the region's first Angry Birds theme park.
Not surprisingly, the Middle Eastern version of Angry Bird Land (there are already outlets in Finland, Singapore and the UK) would also be the world's largest.
"[The competition] is getting quite fierce," says Nigel Cann, director of operations and development at Gebal Group, the local agents for Lappset, who first developed the brand's entertainment complex.
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"They all want to find a space for it, and to do it as soon as they can. They all want to be first."
As one of the most downloaded apps of all times (the game has amassed 1.7 billion downloads since launching in 2010), Angry Birds' name recognition is almost unbeatable.
Though is a global phenomenon, it's proved particularly popular in the region. Over a fifth of all downloads come from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Rovio Entertainment, the developers of the game, are even toying with the idea of creating a localized version of the game.

No one has it, and everyone wants it. They want to be ahead of their neighbors all the time -- they want to beat them at everything.Nigel Cann, Gebal Group

"Everyone recognizes the game, from little kids to adults," notes Cann. "It's a brand new concept to the region. No one has it, and everyone wants it. They want to be ahead of their neighbors all the time -- they want to beat them at everything."
At $60 million, the budget for Angry Birds Land is fairly modest, by entertainment complex standards. According to John Gerner, a theme park consultant and the managing director at Leisure Business Advisors, it makes for a fairly inexpensive investment.
"It's really a great concept for the Middle East, especially for areas looking to grow their attractions," he says. "The scale is small, but it still has a brand name associated with it, and a very current one at that. It gives [whoever wins it] a name attraction without the risk of a more expensive brand."
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Angry Birds Land is just one of several ambitious projects proposed in the region. Other cities are starting to come up with theme park concepts that are either branded, big, or bizarre. In addition to courting Angry Birds, Abu Dhabi has expressed interest in a Michael Jackson-themed resort.
According to Abu Dhabi newspaper The National, Jermaine Jackson has been in talks to build it on Yas Island, adjacent to Ferrari World.
Jordan, a country who relies more on cultural tourism than man-made gimmicks (UNESCO-listed Petra is the most popular destination, attracting over 600,000 visitors in 2011), seems to be taking a tip from its neighbor. RGH Themed Entertainment are developing a $1.5 billion entertainment resort in Aqaba, complete with Star Trek themed rides and a flight simulator attraction.

You don't want to build something that won't get global attention, and if that means it's big, that's what you do. Adam Alexander Page, IMG Group

Before the 2008 recession, Dubai had several entertainment-themed developments in the pipeline, mainly slated for the still undeveloped neigborhood of Dubailand. Though some -- like the largest Six Flags theme park outside of the United States -- were shelved in the downturn, others have found their legs in Dubai's recent economic resurgence.
One of these projects includes IMG World of Adventure, which has a soft launch scheduled for December as part of the City of Arabia residential and commercial development. It plans to usurp Ferrari World as the world's largest indoor theme park, and will include four zones, which, separately, would be a massive undertaking. Perhaps the most unique is The Lost Valley, a Jurassic-themed segment that will include animatronic dinosaurs. Two other zones are dedicated to the characters of Marvel Comics and Cartoon Network.
"We want this park to be one of the center points in the future of Dubai," explains Adam Alexander Page, the vice president of marketing for IMG Group, the developer behind the project.
"As such, you don't want to build something that won't get global attention, and if that means it's big, that's what you do. There's no point in building it small."

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