There have been many regional construction efforts emphasizing youth as well as increased tourism and diversified economies. As a result, countries in the Middle East have been investing heavily in entertainment projects.
After lifting its 35-year ban on cinemas in 2018, Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans for the development of hundreds of movie theaters over the next decade. Large-scale projects like Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi and Dubai Frame were completed and opened to the public last year.
Below are four other prominent entertainment construction projects ongoing in the Middle East:
1. Yas Arena
Construction is steadily progressing on the 18,000-seat, temperature-controlled Yas Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Expected to be complete by November 2019, the $3.2-billion project is being constructed near the Yas Marina F1 circuit. It will include restaurants, cafes, hotels, retail outlets, and a recreational pier.
The inside of the arena will feature elements of smart and adaptable technology. Events will be booked by Flash Entertainment. They will range in variety from wrestling matches and tennis tournaments to concerts and other forms of entertainment.
The first multi-purpose venue in the Emirate, Yas Arena was designed by the global engineering and architecture firm HOK. The firm also designed the nearby retail and dining venues along the boardwalk. Construction is being led by Dutch contractor Bam with assistance from Currie & Brown, BK Gulf, Faithful+Gould, and AESG.
The development of the arena is part of a larger Yas Bay development strategic plan. This plan will see the Yas Island’s southern area transformed into a world-class entertainment destination with a vibrant public waterfront. Two hotels as well as a cinema and beach club will also be built. The second phase will include the construction of another high-end hotel.
2. Reem Mall
Yas Island isn’t the only region in Abu Dhabi in which entertainment infrastructure is a priority. Construction is also ongoing for a $1.2-billion retail and dining destination in the Najmat District of Reem Island.
The mall is being developed by Al Farwaniya Property Developments, which is jointly owned by National Real Estate Company and United Projects for Aviation Services Company. It is expected to open in 2020, by which time it will have upwards of 2 million square feet of retail space. It’s expected to have 450 different retail outlets, 100 of which will be dedicated to food and beverage.
Reem Mall will also house entertainment attractions such as Vox Cinemas, Magic Planet, and a chocolate museum. Its flagship attraction is the 125,000-square-foot indoor snow park, which will be the largest of its kind in the world and offer activities such as luge, sledging, and zorbing. Parking space across three levels will be able to accommodate 6,800 vehicles. The mall will also incorporate energy-efficient features.
3. Kuwait Olympic Village
Similar to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait is hoping to support its long-term growth in part through the development of the Kuwait Olympic Village. This project is expected to cost $1 billion and be completed by 2020.
Located in Jaber Al-Ahmad City, the ambitious sports complex was proposed as part of the New Kuwait 2035 program. Upon completion, it will include a 25,000-seat stadium, swimming complex, three game halls, and a track and field training facility in a 2.67-million-square-feet area.
The construction tender for the project was issued by the Public Authority for Housing Welfare in March 2017. It was awarded to Meinhardt Group which, in addition to lead consultancy services, will be performing civil, structural, architectural, and landscaping duties. The complex will not only serve as a training ground for the country’s most talented athletes, but also be capable of hosting international sporting events.
4. Underwater Theme Park in Bahrain
One of the most unique entertainment attractions under development in the Middle East is Bahrain’s underwater theme park. The 100,000-square-meter theme park will be the largest of its kind in the world when it opens to the public. It is being implemented in partnership with Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, Supreme Council for Environment, and the private sector.
The theme park will include artificial coral reefs, fabricated sculptures, and a replica version of an old Bahraini pearl merchant’s house. However, the most impressive attraction will be the 70-meter-long Boeing 747. It will be the largest aircraft ever submerged.
Because of its nature, developers are stressing environmentally-friendly measures in its creation. For instance, the sculptures will be made from eco-friendly material.
Moreover, according to HM King Hamad’s personal representative HH Shaikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the site will not only be a popular international tourist destination among diving enthusiasts. It will also provide researchers with “rich information and data on marine ecology and biology, serving as a major boost also to the kingdom’s eco-tourism sector.”