What are the Most Exciting Trends and Opportunities in Middle East Attractions?

At DEAL Live by blooloop this week in Dubai we asked some of our speakers and sponsors to share with us what they think the most exciting new developments and future trends are for the Middle East attractions industry.  Here are their answers…

Content is key in driving footfall

Ahmad Hussain bin Essa DubaiAhmad Hussain bin Essa, CEO of Global Village

Dubai has been witnessing huge growth in tourism where Leisure and Entertainment is key for driving targeted 20 million tourists by 2020. Entertainment in the region overall is a key ingredient across attractions, malls and public destinations to ensure growth in numbers and creation of memorable experiences.

The Region is managing to attract international IPs and have them presented in multiple creative entertainment innovations across theme parks and attractions, while at the same time planning for creating own IPs and launching them to the world in the near future.

Content is key in driving footfall to attractions and the Region is showing great developments in delivering comprehensive entertainment experiences that offer Shopping and Dining as an addition to attractions and rides.

The continued development of technology, particularly virtual reality and augmented reality

Adrian Tolliday DubaiAdrian Tolliday, CEO of Tolliday Group International Ltd.

The continued development of technology, particularly virtual reality and augmented reality. There is a real opportunity for the integration of these technologies in Animal based attractions. We can remove the need to house key animals like Whale Sharks, Orca or other sensitive animals, and instead integrate technology to the visitor experience, allowing them to experience these animals in a virtual world.

In this way, we hope the conservation and awareness message can be transferred to the guest in a more appropriate manner. I think that there is a chance to develop these themes more in our designs for this region, where competition drives innovation.

See news about Oman’s Palm Mall Aquarium here.

Exciting opportunity and future trend – artificial surf parks

Seán Young DubaiSeán Young, Founding Director and Head of the Destination Development Consulting Team at Colliers

The potential explosion of leisure and entertainment development in Saudi Arabia with the publication of the 2030 Vision. Exciting opportunity and future trend – artificial surf parks!

See Colliers report on the impact of Saudi’s Vision 2030 here.

Projects are becoming more complex and are integrating different types of amusements, so waterparks will definitely play an important role.

Sohret Pakis Polin Waterparks

Sohret Pakis, Director of Marketing & Communications Polin Waterparks

Recently, the UAE market has been very important to us. According to a report by PwC, the UAE leisure and entertainment market could possibly increase by 70 percent and welcome a whopping 45 million people by 2021. Ten major new theme parks and two safari parks are slated to come to the UAE by 2020, in part due to the World Expo being housed there.

I think this trend will impact waterparks as well. Projects are becoming more complex and are integrating different types of amusements, so waterparks will definitely play an important role. As with many things, I’m not sure we’ll be able to tell how big that role will be until a year after their opening.

Truly an exciting time for us and everyone else who loves animals

Richard Champion Dubai

Richard Champion, Manager Zoological Services ZoOceanarium

Animal facilities such as zoos and aquariums have always been popular in the Middle East but we are seeing the industry modernize as focus is being placed on developing animal habitats rather than just exhibits. And even more exciting, no longer are our clients happy to simply follow global zoo trends, but rather they are looking to lead the trends; creating opportunities for unique and memorable guest experiences while providing habitats and animal care standards that are exemplary.

Basically creating exhibits and facilities that are engaging and interesting for the animals as they are for the guests. We are also seeing more involvement by regional associations such as AZAA who are working on standardizing the way animals are kept and exhibited. They have begun setting up an accreditation process for zoos and aquariums across the region which will be a way that consumers can ensure they are supporting companies that prioritize the way they take care of their animals. Truly an exciting time for us and everyone else who loves animals.

pushing the envelope on visitor experiences in order to create a truly unique destination

Yael S. Coifman DubaiYael S. Coifman, Senior Partner, Leisure Development Partners (LDP)

What’s amazing about the region is how much time and investment been spent on coming up with truly innovative and exciting ideas and entertainment projects – definitely pushing the envelope on visitor experiences in order to create a truly unique destination.

Philip Shepherd Dubai

the real new excitement is in Saudi Arabia

Philip Shepherd, Partner, PwC

Finally after 10 years since the first park licences were acquired and following many twists and turns since, the UAE has at last got a number of theme parks and attractions, with many in development, which will launch the transformation of the country into a broad based entertainment and leisure destination. However the real new excitement is in Saudi Arabia where the early rhetoric about developing the leisure sector is now moving to concrete actions and development. The size of the KSA, the youth of the populations and the lack of current attraction assets makes this a ‘must consider’ country for all developers.

expect to see the UAE region become a leader within the attractions industry and a challenger to the established US and European markets

Sarah-Jane Nightingale DubaiSarah-Jane Nightingale, VP, International Sales and Business Development at Picsolve

Over the coming years, I expect to see the UAE region become a leader within the attractions industry and a challenger to the established US and European markets. World-class entertainment brands will look to capitalise on the region famous for its outstanding customer service with the world’s only 7-star hotel, awe-inspiring engineering successes such as the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Islands and exceptional visitor destinations like the Atlantis Waterpark and Ferrari World. 

Large scale free-roam and simulator based VR … driving the LBE VR market 

Bob Cooney Zero Latency VRBob Cooney, Global Business Development at Zero Latency

Just like everywhere else, the low end of the VR market is getting crowded. Products based upon and emulating consumer VR experiences are not going to be sustainable. Large scale free-roam and simulator based VR that creates experiences that can’t be duplicated at home are going to be driving the VR market for location-based entertainment for quite some time.

trying to modify an international attraction to ‘local’ conditions

Dr Kenneth Wilson Dubai

Dr Kenneth Wilson, Adviser to HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan in the Office of the Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development in the UAE

Ken shared with us the key questions that he is grappling with in his advisory role.

What are the biggest challenges to deal with when trying to modify an international attraction to ‘local’ conditions?  How easy is it to build a link between cultural tourism and large scale leisure and play-based activities?

We hope Ken will let us know we he has the answers!

Thanks to everyone who attended DEAL Live by blooloop on Sunday.  Full report to follow and a huge thank you to our speakers and sponsors.

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