|Middle East and North Africa Business
Report, Amman, JordanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 16, 2007 - Dubai-based developer, Aqua Dunya LLC, and its sponsor investor, Al Sharq Investment, have broken ground on the first phase of the US$ 1.8 billion water-themed family entertainment destination in Dubailand. Aqua Dunya's centerpiece, the iconic Desert Pearl, themed as the largest cruise ship in the world anchored at its desert oasis, will create a new landmark for Dubai's growing tourism market when it opens in January 2010. Aqua Dunya aims to become one of the largest theme park resorts in the Middle East, attracting over three million visitors annually at build-out.
"The arrival of the bulldozers on site marks another major milestone in the realization of our vision for Aqua Dunya", said Mr. Ali Al Shehri, Chairman of Al Sharq Investment.
Aqua Dunya Resort and Residences will be developed in three phases to address the growing demand as tourist arrivals increase to Dubai. The first phase comprises the Aqua Dunya Theme Park, Jumeirah Desert Pearl Hotel and Port District, 170 timeshare apartments, and 1,000 freehold residences.
In deference to the Middle East culture, Steve Tight, CEO of Aqua Dunya, explained, "What's unique about Aqua Dunya is the combination of wet and dry rides in the same park. Unlike traditional water parks, our guests can enjoy Aqua Dunya while dressed in a swim suit or in street clothes to encourage the whole family to experience the excitement together."
The theme park is comprised of three islands, each themed around the tales of Rakaan and his adventures on the high seas, and a number of rides inside the ship itself.
The first phase theme park will have 35 rides and shows at opening expanding to 55 at build-out, and will appeal to all demographic segments from young children to adults.
Jumeirah, the operator of landmark luxury hotels in Dubai and throughout the world and the renowned 'Wild Wadi' water park in Dubai, will be operating the first phase of the resort, including the Aqua Dunya Theme Park, Jumeirah Desert Pearl Hotel, and the Port District.
The five-star Jumeirah Desert Pearl Hotel in the stern of the authentic turn of the century cruise ship will offer 400 luxurious staterooms and suites with views to the surrounding oasis, innovative themed restaurants, a top quality spa, and a variety of recreational facilities.
The Port District offers unique merchandise from around the world in a traditional Arabian souk setting and exotic international dining overlooking the massive 330 meter long cruise ship which forms the backdrop for world-class nightly entertainment.
Aqua Dunya also includes a family-oriented timeshare development with themed one to four bedroom vacation apartments bordering the theme park and canal. The first phase of the residential community sits at the end of the canal with freehold apartments and townhouses fronting an esplanade of waterfront shops and restaurants.
At build-out, Aqua Dunya will include two world class theme parks, three themed hotels, a retail and dining district, a 1,400 seat waterfront theater, a nine-hole golf course, 755 timeshare apartments, and an adjacent residential community with over 2,600 freehold residences.
Aqua Dunya Resort & Residences is themed around the Adventures of Rakaan, the son of a poor Bedouin family that lived in the late 1800's by an oasis in the desert now known as Dubai.
The Adventures of Rakaan: While the family tended their goats and camels, the youngest son, Rakaan, was fascinated with the sea and the activity of the thriving port. Rakaan spent his days by the waterfront watching the pearl divers unload their oysters and the massive trading vessels come and go, while dreaming of one day, sailing away to exciting far off lands.
Finally, unable to resist the temptation, Rakaan stowed away aboard a tea schooner heading east. Two days later the captain discovered the young boy, but it was too late to return to port. The captain was charmed by the boy's energy and enthusiasm and took him under his wing. As the boy grew to become an experienced sailor, he made his own trading fortune in distant lands and collected magnificent treasures from the four corners of the globe. Over time, however, he longed to see his family once again, and returned to find them still at their camp by the desert oasis.
As Rakaan sat around the campfire recounting stories of his amazing travels, the family was spellbound by his tales and the fascinating gifts that he brought. He decided that his family must experience the world's wonders for themselves. A port was constructed and Rakaan began construction of a spectacular sailing vessel, the largest in the world, to take his family and friends to see the world. While his father didn't have a great deal of money, he did have family and friends who together dug a canal from their oasis to the Gulf to launch his ship, named "The Desert Pearl". After many years traveling the world, the Desert Pearl returned to the family's oasis where it has sat at port, awaiting its next adventure.
The Desert Pearl is now being restored to its original splendor, and will once again be ship-shape and ready to set sail. With the help of a little bit of Aqua Dunya imagination, families and friends will embark on an adventure of a lifetime to the exotic island destinations that Rakaan explored.
Copyright (c) 2007, Middle East and North Africa Business Report, Amman, Jordan
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email email@example.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.