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DreamWorks hits Dubai

Toon studio latest to launch theme park

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

The 5 million-square-foot DreamWorks Animation-branded park will see rides incorporate 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 to be built across the region.

“We are thrilled to bring the first DreamWorks Animation-dedicated theme park to Dubai,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. DreamWorks’ push into the region marks the latest in a slew of recent pacts involving Hollywood studios and U.A.E.-based real estate developers.

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Tatweer announced in May 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.

In April, 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 $1 billion theme park to open in 2011.

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

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