Abu Dhabi set to take giant leap forward
By Himendra Mohan Kumar, Staff Reporter Published: September 28, 2007, 00:00
Abu Dhabi: The imminent arrival of Hollywood entertainment giant Warner Bros in Abu Dhabi with a theme park is in line with the positioning of the emirate as a “world-class place that has it all” and over time, tourist arrivals to the UAE are expected to see strong growth, market analysts told Gulf News.
“This is yet another feather in the cap for Abu Dhabi, after the announcement of Formula One, arrival of top world-class universities, setting up of industrial zones and a museum from France, things that tourists love to see,” said one analyst.
On Wednesday in a multi-billion dollar deal, real estate developer Aldar Properties PJSC, one of the largest companies by market capitalisation in the UAE, US-based Warner Bros and the Abu Dhabi Media Company forged a long-term strategic alliance in New York aimed at Abu Dhabi’s digital transformation.
“Abu Dhabi will soon become like Dubai, a very attractive place to live in for professional people with all the goodies available in one place. This would also give a boost to the real estate projects in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi,” said another analyst.
Shortly after the deal was signed, Aldar chairman Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh told Gulf News that the proposed money committed would be invested over the next five years.
Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company together will invest 50 per cent of it, while the remaining 50 per cent will be invested by Warner Bros.
“We are going to build an integrated entertainment and media infrastructure that will be respectful to our culture and values,” said Al Sayegh. “This is a regional partnership that will cover the entire Middle East.”
In a joint statement, Aldar, Warner Bros and Abu Dhabi Media said their alliance covers the creation of a theme park and hotel and jointly owned multiplex cinemas, as well as the formation of a joint venture fund to finance films and to develop and publish video games, heralding the growth of new media in the national capital.
Beyond the businesses specifically outlined in Warner Bros’ initial agreement with Aldar and Abu Dhabi Media Company, the companies will explore additional areas in which they can work together, including ventures such as production facilities, digital content distribution and retail opportunities in the Gulf.
Aldar will coordinate and oversee physical construction of both the theme park and hotel. Groundbreaking for the theme park and hotel is expected in 2009.
Warner Bros International Cinemas will develop, design and manage jointly owned multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi to be built by Aldar. Initial plans call for the construction of four cinemas in Al Ruwais, Al Ain, Yas Island and the Central Market in Abu Dhabi, which will be Warner Bros-branded and themed, featuring iconic characters and titles from Warner Bros’ classic and contemporary film libraries. Groundbreaking for the multiplex cinemas at the Central Market Development has taken place and they are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.
WBIC currently operates cinemas in Italy and Japan and manages the Mann Theatres chain in the United States.
The film production fund, a 50-50 venture, calls for the development and production of mutually agreed-upon, broad-appeal films, with Warner Bros retaining worldwide distribution options/rights. Separate from this arrangement, Warner Bros Pictures International will work with Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop and produce a slate of Arabic-language films for local and pan-Arabic distribution.