Busch announces Worlds of Discovery in Dubai

Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 2:49 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch Cos., today announced an agreement with Nakheel PJSC, one of the world’s largest property developers, to create the Worlds of Discovery – SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove – on The Palm Jebel Ali in Dubai.

BEC and Nakheel, a key company in Dubai’s transformation into one of the fastest growing cities in the world, reached agreement earlier this month on the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that calls for the phased construction of four theme parks on the second of the company’s three Palm man-made island developments.

Nakheel will invest the necessary capital to build and operate the parks. BEC will license its brands to Nakheel and operate the parks under a management contract.

Worlds of Discovery will occupy a section of The Palm Jebel Ali known as “the Crown,” which will resemble a giant killer whale when reclamation work is complete. Nakheel’s plans for The Palm Jebel Ali, currently the world’s largest man-made island, also call for the development of commercial, residential and shopping districts, as well as resort hotels and restaurants.

BEC President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Atchison announced the deal today with Nakheel’s Chief Executive Chris O’Donnell in a ceremony at SeaWorld Orlando’s Shamu Stadium. Also present were BEC Chief Marketing Officer Joe Couceiro and Marwan Al Qamzi, Managing Director of The Palm Jebel Ali.

“Dubai has become one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, and a key part of the strategy has been attracting world-class entertainment brands to the emirate. We have already concluded partnerships with major brands such as Trump, Cirque du Soleil, and Atlantis, and the partnership with BEC is a further example of Dubai’s growth as a city of global prominence,” O’Donnell said. “We are extremely honored that The Palm Jebel Ali will become home to the first Worlds of Discovery theme parks outside of the U.S., which is not only a major coup for Nakheel, but for the whole of Dubai.”

“We are delighted to sign this unique partnership with BEC. SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove are incredible entertainment experiences that have thrilled millions of families since opening,” Al Qamzi said. “Worlds of Discovery will become the attraction of The Palm Jebel Ali and I am already excited about the prospect of opening the doors to our very first visitors.”

The Worlds of Discovery project will be phased and includes SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and, the company’s newest theme park brand, Aquatica. Worlds of Discovery on The Palm Jebel Ali will also include a variety of other family activities, including resort hotels, spas, shops and restaurants.

In addition to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, plans call for the construction of a Discovery Cove similar to the park adjacent to SeaWorld Orlando in Central Florida. Discovery Cove in Orlando is an all-inclusive, reservations only park that features a variety of animal interactions and resort experiences, most notably swimming with bottlenose dolphins, rays and exotic fish. The first Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark, opened this week in Orlando.

Preliminary design work and site planning is underway, with the first phase expected to open in 2012.

More than 300 million cubic yards of sand and 10 million tons of rock have been used in the construction of The Palm Jebel Ali, with the island adding more than 52 miles of coastline to Dubai. Reclamation of the island is nearly complete and Nakheel has already begun putting an infrastructure in place that will eventually support a population of more than 280,000 people.

BEC President, Jim Atchison, said the partnership provides tremendous growth opportunity for both companies: “Dubai has emerged as one of the world’s great travel destinations. Thanks to the vision of companies like Nakheel, the future for this city and this region is bright. We’re thrilled to be joining the tourism community in the emirate and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Nakheel.”

The Worlds of Discovery in Dubai will be designed and managed by BEC. The parks will be staffed by a combination of BEC expatriates and executives trained in BEC parks in the United States and workers recruited regionally.

SeaWorld Dubai will include many of the attractions visitors have come to enjoy in BEC’s U.S. operations, including killer whale, dolphin and sea lion attractions and marine themed rides. BEC will provide all animals for the parks developed in Dubai.

Read the press release on the official site.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 4:08 PM
janfrederick's avatar Why don't they just use huge earth moving machines and transplant all of central Florida to the Hormuz Straight?

Oh...and from the regular forum topic that was nuked: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1796858

Looks like they "tweaked" the original plan.

*** This post was edited by janfrederick 2/28/2008 4:10:44 PM ***

Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:32 PM
crazy horse's avatar Seems like they are building a lot of parks in dubai.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:52 PM
Jeff's avatar The greatest irony about the tourism industry in that region is that right now they're profiting like crazy from the sale of oil to us, and yet they're the only ones who seem to understand that limited resource will in fact eventually dry up.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:21 PM
crazy horse's avatar Or they want you to believe it will dry up, so they can reap the profits.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:26 PM
The irony here is if the oil company truly believes global warmings to be a myth, then this may end up sinking their trillion dollar resort. I assume they've incorporated rising water levels into their plans, otherwise the water park may turn out to be larger then planned.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:34 PM
crazy horse's avatar I am kind of leary of this whole island thing. I can't remember where it is, but they built a man made island and put an airport on it. Well, it's now sinking.
Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:19 PM
Mamoosh's avatar I did a Yahoo search for "sinking airport" and came up with the answer in less than 10 seconds. It was the first entry in the search results: Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan.

It's funny what you can find on the internet if you just spend a minute and search.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:00 PM
Can Dubai support these 4 parks? Orlando has 50+ million visitors a year, but Dubai is estimated to have only 15 Million by 2015. Also, will the Busch Gardens be an animal park like Tampa or more thrill like Williamsburg? I think it may be a hard sell having 4 animal parks next to each other, but then again there will be 3 next to each other in Orlando.
*** This post was edited by otterkpr 2/28/2008 10:01:45 PM ***
Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:26 PM
If the scale is correct on those photos that were posted, the individual "fronds" on the palm are only 300-400 feet wide but a mile or more long. What do they intend to use them for? Are they going to be beaches only or will they have buildings constructed on them?
Thursday, February 28, 2008 11:04 PM

from the US Dept of State website on travel to UAE...

Drinking or possession of alcohol without a Ministry of Interior liquor permit is illegal and could result in arrest and/or fines and imprisonment. Alcohol is served at bars in most major hotels but is intended for guests of the hotel. Persons who are not guests of the hotel, and who consume alcohol in the restaurants and bars, technically are required to have their own personal liquor licenses. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons who possess UAE residency permits. Drinking and driving is considered a serious offense. Penalties generally are assessed according to religious law.

for those that miss the irony, its because Busch is a BEER company...
*** This post was edited by CPJ 2/28/2008 11:06:20 PM ***

Friday, February 29, 2008 12:22 AM

to answer your question, they "fronds" on the palm islands are for housing.

For more info:


Friday, February 29, 2008 4:50 AM
Maybe they should start to build more prisons in Dubai since they have (and enforce) a ridiculous drug policy.

You can, and as reports show, will be imprisoned up to four years for posession of miniscule amounts of narcotics and medication such as codein which is legal almost everywhere.

They put a swiss man in jail for having three poppy seeds on his clothing which he "smuggled" by eating a roll in transit. And recently they locked a tourist away who had 0,003g of dopw on his shoe (thats invisible to the human eye!)

Read about it here: http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/news/article3333905.ece

If this continues their dream of a global tourist destination might be a risky business.

I also get the feeling that this themepark building in Dubai is getting a bit ridiculous.
Even companies that went out of this particular business are now getting in again. Do they all fear that they would miss the bus if they don´t invest in Dubai?
Do they really believe that they are making a serious long term investment? By the time the business could really get rolling, their parks could already be outfashioned.

AND...how should we get there if there is no more oil?! The carefree days of cheap mass tourism will certainly be over then.

Friday, February 29, 2008 9:32 AM
Jeff's avatar Money talks and erodes traditions and customs.
Friday, February 29, 2008 4:04 PM
Whats the deal with making islands that look like stuff from the air? In Russia they are building an island that looks like Russia... and I wonder what the islands that apear to be Arabic words actually mean.
Friday, February 29, 2008 4:25 PM
I'm a bit ambivalent about all of this since the liklihood of me ever going to Dubai is remote. But, I do have to wonder why Busch and not Disney. I'm not being a fanboy. I love both. But, I wonder if Disney wasn't approached or, if they were approached, why they would pass on the opportunity.

I think they are doing some amazing things in Dubai. The indoor ski slope is remarkable. But, I do also wonder what the saturation point is.

Friday, February 29, 2008 8:19 PM
That place is just exploding in terms of amusement parks.

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