Thursday, 28 October 2010

Abu Dhabi 'to rival Dubai' with new Ferrari theme park and life-size Scalextric



Visitors ride in miniature Ferrari cars at the opening of the world's biggest indoor theme park, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi has always been considered the quieter emirate when compared to gaudy cousin Dubai.

But all that could be set to change as the state prepares to welcome an estimated 10,000 tourists a day to the new Ferrari-themed amusement park - billed as the largest in the world.

Tourism chiefs hope the world's fastest rollercoaster - which travels at 149mph in 4.9 seconds, recreating the G-force felt in a Formula One car - and the more sedate life-size Scalextric-style track, will catapult it onto the world stage.

A visitor enjoys the ride at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi during its media launch in the Emirati capital

The park is expected to become a mecca for Grand Prix racing fans, particularly as the Formula One race is due to take place there next month, and the United Arab Emirates is said to have ploughed billions into the 861,000 square foot park.

The red roof of the indoor complex is modelled on the side profile of a Ferrari GT and is adorned with the largest prancing horse logo ever created.

Terror-ride: The 149mph rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi which has been built next to the new indoor Ferrari theme park

The track in Abu Dhabi: The world's fastest rollercoaster duplicates the G-forces felt by racing drivers in a Grand Prix

'We had only a few malls and desert safaris, we need such thrilling amusements and now we don't have to run to Dubai on weekends,' said Mohamed Mazroui, an Emirates' businessman and racing buff.

Once, Abu Dhabi was know as the more sober neighbour of glitsy Dubai, which made its name with extravagant property projects, outlandish tourist attractions and luxury shopping.

While Dubai spent the past decade transforming itself into a regional hub offering a Western-style nightlife, it remained more conservative when it came to drink and dress.

But when the global financial crisis hit, bursting Dubai's bubble and triggering debt problems that nearly sank the emirate's economy, things began to change.

As it wrangled with creditors over how its state-owned conglomerate Dubai World would restructure $26billion of debt, Abu Dhabi spent billions to diversify its economy away from oil, developing its industry, real estate, finance and tourism sectors.

Just next to Ferrari World's Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi sits Saadiyat Island - a $27billion art and culture project planned to house spin-offs of the Louvre museum in Paris and New York's Guggenheim.

Abu Dhabi, which holds the bulk of the oil reserves of the UAE, the third-largest oil exporter in the world, is aiming for a 15 per cent annual increase of tourists with a target of 2.3 million by the end 2012.

Mubarak al Muhairi, director general of tourism, said: 'The Ferrari park is a major leap forward in our leisure proposition as it has enormous appeal regionally and internationally.'

Racing attraction: The biggest Prancing Horse logo in the world adorns the indoor Ferrari World Theme Park in Abu Dhabi

While Dubai spent the past decade transforming itself into a regional hub offering luxury shopping, beaches and a Western-style nightlife, Abu Dhabi has remained more conservative when it comes to drink and dress.

Theme park general manager Claus Frimand said: 'It will be a lot of sensations for every age group. We have managed to turn one of the world's most exclusive brands into an extraordinary experience for families and fans.'

Emirati visitors are shown a Ferrari displayed at the theme park

source: dailymail


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