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A new $1 billion theme park opens to the public in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is the result of a collaboration between the U.S. entertainment firm and local holding company, Miral Asset Management.
Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, the chairman of Miral, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, said the investment would profit from growing tourism in the region.
“China, India and Russia have been our biggest markets and there is strong growth by all these countries,” he said.
“We expect stronger growth to come from U.K., Germany and Saudi Arabia. Additions like the Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi will just compound that growth,” he added.
The indoor amusement park is spread over more than 1.65 million square feet and has 29 rides. Visitors move through six themed areas: Warner Bros Plaza, Metropolis, Gotham City, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and Dynamic Gulch.
Al Mubarak said he expected the amusement park to “grow and grow” as more characters and stories were added to the roster.
By his side, the chairman of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Kevin Tsujihara, said any idea that Western fictional characters might not translate to Middle East audiences was misplaced.
“The messages of hope and goodness, and the villainy, aren’t specific to any country whatsoever and being part of this region just feels like a natural extension for these characters,” he said.
Tsujihara said he was confident the park could withstand competition from rivals in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He added he was so confident in the park’s ability to entertain that visitors would even disconnect from the internet.
“You feel the characters come up to you. You can feel and touch them in a way that you can’t replicate with screens. You are going to put that cell phone down when you go on these rides,” he said.
Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi was officially opened Monday by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.
On Twitter, Mohammed Bin Zayed described Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi as “another tourist attraction that will contribute to the promotion of family tourism in Yas Island. We will continue to translate our strategic development plans into reality to achieve global leadership.”