DUBAI: Domes inspired by the royal palaces of India rise from a new Bollywood theme park under construction in Dubai, part of a drive to lure millions more tourists to the emirate.
It already boasts opulent shopping malls and numerous luxury resorts, but the Gulf city-state has even grander ambitions and the film industry is centrestage.
Bollywood Parks is part of Dubai Parks and Resorts (DPR) which is being developed as the region’s “largest integrated theme park resort”. Spread over 25 million square feet, it will feature three theme parks and a water park.
The resort is located near the region’s busiest port and close to where Dubai is expanding its second airport to make it the world’s largest. The Bollywood theme park, a first of its kind inspired by the Indian popular movie industry, aims with its centrepiece Rajmahal Theatre, cinemas, rides and simulators to increase Dubai’s appeal to tourists from South Asia.
“We are trying to target a wide geographic area, but of course the majority will be from India and countries in close proximity to India ... and (are) big lovers of Bollywood,” said its general manager, Thomas Jellum.
Around 14,000 construction workers are toiling round the clock to keep DPR on track for its October opening. More than 14.2 million people visited Dubai in 2015, but the target is 20 million by 2020 when the Gulf emirate hosts the global trade fair Expo 2020.
Visitors from Gulf countries represented the largest regional group last year at 3.3 million, up 12.8 percent, with Saudis alone numbering 1.54 million.
But Indian visitors surged by 26 percent to 1.6 million, becoming for the first time the largest single nationality, while Britons rose 11 percent to 1.2 million.
“We do not want to focus on six or seven markets. We want to focus on 20 markets,” Kazim said.