Sorouh in $1bn deal for leisure facilities



Abu Dhabi-based Sorouh Real Estate has signed a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Jordanian animation shingle Rubicon to create an entertainment destination in its real estate portfolio.


The multifaceted strategic alliance, which could be worth up to $1 billion (Dh33.67bn) once all the projects are completed, will include retail, leisure and entertainment facilities, according to Daily Variety magazine.


Sorouh officials  refused to confirm the project value.


The three companies will be working jointly to develop a broad and varied entertainment platform and creative content for high-quality themed entertainment and leisure facilities. The collaboration will take a phased approach in creating and implementing entertainment concepts and theme-related real estate developments.


The strategic alliance will also explore other business opportunities, seeking to establish a long-term, multi-faceted relationship.


“Through our partnership with MGM and Rubicon, we hope to leverage the unique opportunities available within our real estate portfolio and, ultimately, raise the profile of the entertainment destinations offered by Sorouh in Abu Dhabi,” Sorouh Real Estate Vice-Chairman and Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei said in a statement.


“We’re creating something seen never before in the industry. It will be a unique environment,” MGM Executive Vice-President Travis Rutherford told Daily Variety.

MGM properties such as The Pink Panther, Rocky and Stargate are likely to figure prominently in the development – which all involved were keen to stress will not be a theme park – as well as animated characters such as Ben and Izzy from the Rubicon stable.


“We see the clear vision of the Abu Dhabi Government and understand the underlying desire of Sorouh to create a balanced environment integrating relevant aspects of culture, media and entertainment in their developments to meet the needs and desires of coming generations in the UAE as well as the region. Along with MGM, we will work to create a balanced environment with a view to serve the long-term objectives of our partners,” Fawaz H Zu’bi, Chairman of Rubicon, said.


This deal follows a strategic partnership signed last June between MGM and Rubicon, the first part of which was a co-financing and co-production joint venture on 26-episode animated skein Pink Panther & Pals.


According to the magazine, the companies are also looking into creating a dedicated film and TV production fund, as well as exploring the possibility of building an animation studio in Abu Dhabi. The deal will likely take three to five years to complete.


In January, DreamWorks Animation announced a billion-dollar strategic alliance with Dubai-based real estate company Tatweer to develop a range of tourism and leisure projects. Universal, Paramount, Nickelodeon and Marvel have all planted their flags in the UAE in the past 12 months.


In October, Warner Bros signed its own multibillion-dollar, multimedia deal with Abu Dhabi-based company Al Dar. In addition to the now-customary real estate aspects, it also included a $500m production fund and a $500m vidgame fund.


Earlier this month, Sorouh and Goodman Group, an Australian integrated global industrial property group, entered into a joint venture agreement for development and management of business and logistics parks in the Gulf.