PARTS of Dubailand, the ambitious tourism, leisure and entertainment project being developed in Dubai by Tatweer, part of Dubai Holding, are complete. CEO of Dubailand Mohammed Al Habbai spoke to CHERYL MANDY during a recent tour of the development.
The idea of blending residential areas with theme parks and a F1 race circuit is very unusual. Could you comment on this and the reasons behind this mix of developments?
Dubailand’s offerings reflect its holistic profile to include diverse elements. The destination will not only include theme parks and F1 circuit, it will also boast a rich variation of retail, hospitality and residential communities. This is the core essence of Dubailand which seeks to provide tourists to the emirate with varied experiences.
Each component in Dubailand serves a pre-destined role. Such diversity alone will ensure sustained interest in the destination. We believe theme parks, the F1 circuit, the retail and hospitality elements will co-exist and cater to the needs of residents, visitors and tourists.
How many projects within Dubailand are ready?
As of today we have six projects up and running – the Ernie Els Golf Course which was officially inaugurated in January this year, the Autodrome which includes an FIA approved five kilometre plus circuit and has been operational since 2004, the Dubai Outlet Mall, Al Sahra Desert Resort, Global Village and Dubai Sports City.
What visitor numbers are you anticipating once everything is completed?
I would say it will be in stages. Take for example, Universal Studios. For the first year we will probably get 3.5 million tourists, and that will grow to around seven million - and that is just for this one component.
By 2015 we are expecting about 11 million visitors to come to Dubailand out of the 15 million expected to visit Dubai. I believe we will receive the largest proportion of tourists.
These people will come from all over the world. Dubailand has attracted so many international companies such as Universal Studios, DreamWorks Animation, the Tiger Woods Dubai – this is the first and only world-class golf course to be designed by world champion Tiger Woods - and many other attractions to come.
How will you going about bringing tourists here?
We have marketing strategy plans where we will get most of our tourists through international and national exhibitions, advertisement and other promotions. We will also promote through our tour operators, Emirates Airline and the TDCM.
What percentage of visitors will come from the Middle East?
I would say that the Middle East will contribute 45 per cent and the rest will come from all over the world. We are expecting the future market segment will come from India and China, so we have to ensure that we cater for all these different markets with different needs. When we did our consumer research we noticed that each customer group has different needs. For example, while the Germans want to have dinner at 5 pm sharp, others will eat much later so we need food and beverage outlets to cater for this range.
We don’t just create things without thought – what our specialist teams are building at Dubailand is for the future and for the needs of all our customers.
What do you think your biggest draw card is going to be at Dubailand?
All of the projects here will attract tourists with different tastes. The latest update from the DTCM stated that last year the number of tourists that passed through the Dubai airport was plus 34 million passengers. We would attract more if we had more hotels – the only issue here is the lack of hotel rooms in Dubai.
I think all the projects within Dubailand will cater for different markets, so we need also to go for three and four star hotels. We will have hotels within Dubailand but we haven’t announced anything regarding the hotel brands as yet.
Any offering to tour operators and travel agents?
It is too early to talk about this but by the beginning of next year we have to start contacting all the tour operators because we will have a package by then.
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