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Theme Park Guy Rating: 0
Date Visited:
December 12, 2007 / October 25, 2008 / June 27, 2009
October 26, 2009 / July 18, 2010
Location: View on map
Dubailand Photos

Construction Update July 18, 2010

Dubailand was the trademark project of Tatweer, a subsidiary of state-owned Dubai Holding that recently merged into Dubai Properties, a developer of residental and commercial high-rises in Dubai. Current brochures state that Dubailand Phase 1 is 'fully operational': Dubai Autodrome (a race track that opened in 2004), Dubai Sports City (a cricket stadium, golf courses and villas), Dubai Outlet City (a mall), Global Village (a seasonal fun fair operating since 1996) and Al Sahra Desert Resort (a show venue in the desert).

Well, if Dubailand is about residential property and recreation, it can claim some progress. But if it's about gargantuan world-class theme parks, as the name suggests, it's a cursed story. The biggest series of back-to-back theme park announcements in history involving brands like Universal Studios, Dreamworks Animation, Marvel, Six Flags, Lego and Paramount results in not even a single one materializing? What a chimerical tale!

Yet, the final chapter may not have been written. No theme park construction whatsoever took place in Dubailand's desert territory last year. During the same period, the massive Ferrari World indoor theme park has been rising subtly from the sand in neighboring Abu Dhabi. Due to open later this year, its massive structure looks a bit like a piece of the insane Dubailand sales center model still exhibited to the public today. It's going to be the first world-class, monster-budget theme park in the Middle East and I believe its success or failure will co-determine the fate of the title holder of this review.

Dubailand gateSales center entranceDubailand sales center modelLegends Dubailand officeEntrance to the former Marvel officeFormer Marvel officeMarvel in ArabicUniversal Studios signUniversal Studios gate leading to the former site officeUniversal Studios DubailandUniversal Studios security noticeDubai Outlet Mall with Universal Studios gate in the background

Construction Update October 26, 2009

As far as I can see only one theme park, 'Restless Planet' in the 'City of Arabia', is going ahead in Dubailand. I saw the construction workers and I saw them working on the site of the future dinosaur theme park. So I guess – and hope – that this one is still going to happen. After all, the animatronic dinosaurs – stored in Japan for a couple of years already – aren't getting any younger and are waiting for their Middle Eastern home! We might not see it before 2012, though.

The only addition to Universal Studios Dubailand since my last visit is the sand left behind from the scorching wind that washes over the desert site. However, some say the plan is to abandon the old site (this has already happened) and build the Universal theme park at a new location, closer to the city and the Dubailand sales center. I couldn't find anything to confirm this, so it's just a rumor for now.

The cranes of F1-X theme park haven't moved since my last visit in May; it is still on hold. Given that there is a Formula 1-themed park called Ferrari World in the advanced stages of construction in close-by Abu Dhabi, this might actually be not a bad idea. New residential buildings are sprouting up here and there and the sales center is still selling the old dream with the old deadlines that can't be met anymore. What happened to Dubailand?

Dubailand sales centerSales center from insideRestless Planet billboardRestless Planet billboard up closeRestless plastic dinosaursThe dedicated site for Restless PlanetMall of Arabia construction siteMall of Arabia and Restless Planet modelRestless Planet modelF1-X theme park siteF1-X on the left, future Marriott hotel on the rightF-1 X theme park up closeDubailand sales center seen through F-1 X constructionF-1 X billboard, with Burj Al Arab in the backgroundUniversal Studios Dubailand construction site progress signUniversal Studios fenceDesert claiming back the abandoned Universal siteDubailand sales center from a different angle

Construction Update June 27, 2009

Unfortunately, the only news I can deliver from here is that the majority of the Dubailand billboards (which were everywhere on my last visit) have been removed and no visible construction of theme parks is underway.

The most likely survivors of Dubai’s very own crisis were Universal Studios Dubailand and the F1-X theme park. While construction of the former is currently not progressing, the latter was entirely put on hold by developer Union Properties due to lack of funding. As for Aqua Dunya, Restless Planet and Legends of Arabia – no signs of construction.

Dubailand, announced in 2003, could be on the way to becoming a bit of an unfortunate story. I hope this won't be the case: the idea of creating a massive theme-park city in the desert of the Middle East is bizarre and fantastic. Who knows what might happen, but with construction in hibernation here, this ambitious plan might take some years to come about. If anyone involved in one of the Dubailand projects reads this, I’d love to hear from you.

Dubailand sales center entranceSlow constructionMotor City skyscrapersDubai Autodrome circuitF-1 X billboardF-1 X site planSite plan up closeAbandoned F-1 X theme park siteConstruction came to a halt hereF1-X construction as far as it wentLocation of the F1-X officeCompleted residential area in Motor CityGlobal Village annual fun fairGlobal Village entranceGlobal Village office buildingTemple inside Global VillageCity of Arabia siteMall of Arabia siteHalf-empty billboardAl Sahra Desert Resort entranceAl Sahra logoSkyscraper construction in the middle of nowhereFalcon City of Wonders villasEmpty billboardFormer Aqua Dunya billboardFormer Universal Studios billboardFormer DreamWorks theme park billboardTiger Woods golf course billboardNew 'City of Arabia' billboardCricket stadium in Dubai Sports City

Construction Update October 25, 2008

DUBAILAND! Doesn't it sound great? I live here while I write this (July 2008), so let's go a little bit into detail:

Dubailand was announced in October 2003. When I moved to Dubai in the spring of 2006, I discovered an impressive showroom in the desert displaying the planned theme parks on a giant, awe-inspiring model. However, up until this day I can’t see any sign of construction of roller coasters or water slides in the Dubailand area. New villas, apartments, film studios and a sports stadium are going up, but, apart from the amazing Universal Studios Dubailand (the desert has been flattened and prepared for construction, but no rides on location yet), where are the theme parks?

Here are the incredible projects with July 2008 status updates:

• Aqua Dunya Water Park, announced in 2006, scheduled opening in 2009. Status: Desert
• City of Arabia Restless Planet, announced in 2005, scheduled opening in 2009. Status: Flat desert with a road
• Legends Dubailand Theme Park, announced in 2004, scheduled opening in 2008. Status: Desert with a showroom
• Falcon City of Wonders, announced in 2005, scheduled opening in 2008. Status: Villas under construction but no theme park
• Sunny Mountain Skidome, announced in 2004, scheduled opening was in 2006. Status: Desert
• Dreamworks Animation Park Dubailand, announced in 2007, scheduled opening in 2012. Status: Desert
• Paramount Pictures Park, announced in 2007, opening date not announced yet (smart!). Status: Desert
• Bawadi, announced in 2007, scheduled to opening in 2010. Status: Desert road with billboards
• Six Flags Dubai, announced in 2008, scheduled opening in 2011. Status: Desert
Universal Studios Dubailand, announced in spring 2007, scheduled opening in 2010. Status: under construction

I'd love to see this gonzo concept of a theme park city come to live as it appears in the Dubailand showroom. Announced date for opening of the first phase in 2010. Let's see! 

Universal Studios Dubailand has its own section on

10 December 2010 proposed launch dateDreamWorks Animation theme park billboardDreamWorks billboard up closeDreamworks theme park posterShrek in the Dubailand sales officeFreej theme park billboardFreej theme park model in the sales centerFreej model from a different angleProposed Freej coasterSix Flags Dubailand billboardSix Flags poster in the sales centerSix Flags coaster model in the sales centerMarvel theme park billboardMarvel theme park poster in the sales centerPlantation Equestrian Club billboardLegoland poster in the sales centerF-1 X theme park construction wallF-1 X vision, the firstF1-X vision, the second (pretty different)F-1 X coaster carsF-1 X theme park construction siteOn location in DubailandLegends headquartersLegends officeLegends theme park model in the sales centerResidential property or office buildings in the making here!Legends office in the middle of nowhereFormer Aqua Dunya billboardAqua Dunya model in the sales centerAqua Dunya site, nothing happening hereGlobal Village entranceBinLadin site officeDubailand construction fenceMall of Arabia siteCity of Arabia building risingMall of Arabia looks a bit desertedMall of Arabia (and Restless Planet) foundationsCity of Arabia dinosaur exhibited at a local trade fairDubailand mapDubailand map, the secondDubailand map, the thirdBillboard, sales center coaster and rocket against the backdrop of Dubai skyline

Construction Update June 30, 2008

Dubailand sales center from the helicopterCloser look, Dubailand sales centerUFO-like infrastructure behind the sales centerResidential construction in front of the Legends officeFalcon City of Wonders villas under constructionA non-Dubailand theme park development called Stargate

Construction Update December 12, 2007

Here is my very first Dubailand update, it's December 2007 and I just started this site about two months ago.

It feels a bit weird to me that my current place of residence shall have that many theme parks all at once. Nevertheless, you don't get anywhere if you don't get things started, so we'll see where it goes.

Enjoy the photos!

Dubailand gateDubailand sales centerGiraffes at the sales center parking lotDolphins and rockets, as wellGiant biker on giant coaster trackHuge models over here (see the two workers?)Universal Studios in Dubai?Sales center view from insideGiant, insane modelEndless theme park territoryFilm studiosModel sheikhAqua Dunya water park modelProposed Ski DomeDinosaur models in the sales centerReal tiger in the sales center'Going Live in 2010'Global village fun fair officeIt's been an annual fun fair for yearsAqua Dunya water park billboardRestless Planet indoor theme park billboardFalcon City of Wonders billboardBawadi billboardSomething is happening. Is it really theme park construction?
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