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Bedour Ibrahim

The Simaisma project will be located about 40 minutes north of the gas-rich nation’s capital Doha

Qatar Plans $5.5 Billion Development With Disney-Size Theme Park

Saturday 29/June/2024 - 09:40 PM
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Qatar is starting work on a new 20 billion riyal ($5.5 billion) tourism development that will be centered around a large amusement park that’s poised to be bigger than Walt Disney Co.’s iconic Magic Kingdom.

The Simaisma project will be located about 40 minutes north of the gas-rich nation’s capital Doha and ultimately span 8-million square meters (1،976 acres) along 7 kilometers of beachfront land. The development is also set to include an 18-hole golf course surrounded by 300 villas، luxury resorts، a marina and beach club as well as homes and shops. 
Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company، a unit of the state’s sovereign wealth fund، has been appointed by the government to manage the development of the project.

Attracting more people

“The anchor is the theme park and that phase will be coming first to attract more people to come and invest،” Qatari Diar Chief Executive Officer Ali Mohamed Al-Ali said in an interview. “It’s part of the government strategy to diversify the economy and invest in the tourism pillar.”

The development is part of Qatar’s yearslong efforts to transform itself into a vacation destination. Qatari officials have said they want the tourism industry to ultimately contribute 12% to the country’s gross domestic product by 2030 and the nation has welcomed throngs of tourists since it hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2022، an event it spent more than $300 billion preparing for. 
More than 45 million travelers passed through Doha’s airport last year and the nation of about 2.5 million is beginning to wield outsize influence in the global sporting arena. For instance، it recently hosted the AFC Asian Cup soccer tournament and landed a permanent spot on the Formula 1 racing calendar under a 10-year deal that started last year. Doha will also host the FIFA Arab Cup next year and the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2027.

Qatari Diar is currently in talks with several international park operators to manage the amusement park and expects to make a decision on who will run it in the coming months، Al-Ali said. At 650،000 square meters (160 acres)، the new park is expected to be even bigger than the likes of Magic Kingdom، which is a little over 100 acres.

There are 16 plots that will be sold to private developers and investors to build hotels، homes and other facilities on the land، Al-Ali said. There are current discussions underway with developers from Saudi Arabia، UAE، Turkey، US and Europe that have shown interest in the project، the CEO said.

The Simaisma development will also expand Qatar’s beachfront resorts. Qatar has 39،000 hotel rooms but only 10% of that is beachfront.  

“We’re not competing with anybody in the region،” he said. “We are introducing a new product that’s not available elsewhere، along with all its amenities and services all together in one location.”