Global Village, which attracted 4.2 million visitors last season, will reopen today for the last time as a temporary tourist attraction.
By the end of 2008, the cultural theme park will become a year-round fixture, with the first two phases of the three-stage expansion opening to the public.
The first two phases, costing Dh1 billion, will create more than 1,000 jobs and when the third phase – which encompasses two hotels and furnished apartments – is completed in 2011, developers hope the attraction will bring in 20 million visitors annually.
Abdul Redha Ali bin Redha, chief executive of Global Village, said he did not want the public to be confused about the plans and hoped to welcome five million visitors during this season’s 80-day duration.
“We have two teams – one working on this season’s Global Village and another working on construction,” he said. “But we have been working hard to make this season a success and have new features such as a 700m canal and an aquatic show.”
The transformation of the cultural attraction into a permanent fixture as part of Tatweer’s Dubailand, will see three billion square feet of desert, or five times the area of Paris, developed into a residential and entertainment complex.
Finalised plans for Global Village will be announced following the end of this season’s run, but the first phase is likely to consist of six pavilions shaped in a horseshoe representing Europe, Africa, Asia, Arabia, the Far East and Pan-America plus a 6,000-seat amphitheatre.
Each pavilion will house between 50 to 70 outlets representing different countries and the perimeter will have restaurants offering international cuisine.
“What we will provide at the permanent Global Village is a cultural entertainment city,” said Redha. “We are adding to the current tourist attractions in Dubai and opening up to international tourists.”
The second phase will see a retail area with 80 high-street outlets and an expansion of the current outdoor thrill rides.
As well as improving the entertainment and cultural attractions the new Global Village will, by 2011, include a five-star hotel with 560 rooms, a three-star with 490 rooms, 600 residential units and 785 furnished apartments. However, final contracts for these facilities have not yet been confirmed.
Global Village was established in 1996 at a small site along Dubai Creek attracting 500,000 visitors in its first year, before moving to its present location off the Emirates Road in 2006. Over the years it has grown into a star attraction for tourists.
1,000 - Jobs will be created at Global Village
1bn - Amount in dirhams to be spent on the first two phases of the permanent site
20m - Number of annual visitors to Global Village by 2010
4.2m - Number of visitors to Global Village during the 2006-07 season