Dreamworks Animation eyes Dubai

SKG to develop multi-billion dollar tourist hub, theme park

LONDON — DreamWorks Animation SKG is the latest Hollywood major to plant its flag in the United Arab Emirates, inking a multi-billion dollar strategic alliance with real estate company Tatweer to develop a range of tourism and leisure projects in Dubai, the highlight of which will be a theme park.

The DreamWorks Animation-branded theme park will be 5 million square feet and will see rides incorporating characters from DreamWorks titles such as the “Shrek” franchise and upcoming “Kung Fu Panda.”

Other aspects of the DreamWorks-Tatweer partnership call for DreamWorks-themed restaurants, hotels and retail outlets built across the region.

“We are thrilled to bring the first DreamWorks Animation dedicated theme park to Dubai,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. “This relationship will allow us to create an exciting destination where families and tourists will enjoy the unique opportunity to interact with DreamWorks-branded content.”

DreamWorks’ push into the region is the latest in a slew of recent pacts involving Hollywood studios and U.A.E.-based real estate developers.

Tatweer already announced in May last year a $2 billion deal with Universal Parks and Resorts to build Universal City Dubailand. The 505-acre development, which will include a 149-acre Universal theme park along with a range of hotels, restaurants and retail outlets, will open in 2010.

U.A.E.-based real estate concern Al Ahli announced a deal with Marvel Entertainment to bring Marvel’s full library of superheroes — including Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Incredible Hulk — to Dubai for a new $1 billion theme park, set to open in 2011.

Days later, Al Ahli unveiled another long-term partnership with Nickelodeon that will see such Nick properties as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Dora the Explorer” join the Marvel characters in the park.

Paramount also inked a licensing deal in June with Ruwaad Holdings worth $2.5 billion to turn Par properties such as “Mission: Impossible,” “Top Gun” and “The Godfather” into a series of Dubai-based, tourist-friendly parks and rides.