Make us your home page

Busch, partner put theme parks project in Dubai on hold

Shamu won't be splashing in the Middle East anytime soon.

Busch Entertainment Corp., which owns Tampa's Busch Gardens, has suspended plans to build four theme parks in Dubai for at least a year.

Busch and Dubai-based real estate partner Nakheel PJSC cited the worsening financial climate for their decision to postpone the Worlds of Discovery project in the Middle Eastern emirate.

"BEC and Nakheel remain committed to the Worlds of Discovery Dubai partnership and will announce a new completion target date in due time," Busch spokesman Fred Jacobs said in a statement Wednesday.

The centerpiece of the plan was a man-made island in the Persian Gulf shaped like Shamu, the killer whale mascot from Busch-owned SeaWorld in Orlando.

On adjoining sand bars, shaped like palms leaves, Dubai's government planned to build a flashy tourist mecca of 15,000 hotel rooms, shopping malls and 280,000 permanent residents.

Busch, acquired as part of Belgian beer maker InBev's purchase of Anheuser-Busch last year, was to have designed and managed the Dubai operations. Two parks, SeaWorld and Aquatica, were to open in late 2012, followed by Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove in 2015.

"This will be the crowning glory of a complete city in a modern metropolis within a four-hour flight of 1.4-billion people," Marwan Al-Qanzi, managing director of the project for Nakheel, said last year.

The deal isn't dead, Jacobs said. Busch and Nakheel promised to revisit Worlds of Discovery when the economy improves. In the meantime, the desert city-state will still get its fix of American amusements.

Universal Parks & Resorts is moving forward with a 2012 opening of its Dubailand theme park.

Busch, partner put theme parks project in Dubai on hold 02/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 4, 2009 10:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  4. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  5. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]