REV: MAY 24, 2007
WILLIAM GOETZMANN IRINA TARSIS
Dubailand: Destination Dubai
The biggest war that any country can engage in is that of development. Although it is a long and costly war, the number of soldiers increases instead of decreasing. So let’s take part in the war of development together, and let our victims be poverty, ignorance, and backwardness. — Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai1 Dubailand, designed to be the world’s largest amusement park, was rising out of a stretch of desert near Arabian Gulf. As envisioned, the complex would cover three times the surface of Manhattan, or 45,900 acres, and nearly 5% of Dubai, a tiny emirate on the Arabian Gulf with population of one million. In addition to the park, Dubai had other ambitious development projects underway—all marvels of engineering—including three vast artificial resort islands shaped like palm trees, with one surrounded by smaller islands arranged to form the graceful lettering in an iconic Arabic poem,2 and a man-made archipelago of 300 private islands four kilometers from shore arranged in an elliptical Mollweide Projection of the world.a Part of a plan to draw 15 million tourists to Dubai by 2010, the $5 billion amusement park was expected to dwarf all entertainment, leisure, and tourism centers of the world. The completed complex would contain six themed “worlds,” each with numerous separate amusements, and a large shopping center. In addition to rides and shopping, the complex would house the largest zoo in the Middle East, an artificial rain forest, several five-star hotels, concert halls, art galleries, and sport arenas. Dubailand’s target audience would be families of all nationalities from disparate corners of the world, who would come to the region for extended vacations and return to experience additional theme worlds. The key to Dubailand’s success lay in attracting the right mix of investors and in managing shortcomings endemic to the region such as limited natural resources and growing Islamic radicalism that periodically interrupted tourism in Indonesia, Egypt, and Israel. The questions facing its developers and investors included: how to forecast the future of tourist growth in the Gulf region, and whether 21st-century Dubai would be able to compete with the other global centers of attraction? See Appendix 1.
a The Mollweide Projection of the world was invented in 1806 by astronomer and mathematician Carl B. Mollweide who
placed all of the continents and islands into an ellipse. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Professor William Goetzmann and Research Associate Irina Tarsis, Global Research Group, prepared this case from published sources. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2006 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business School.
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Dubailand: Destination Dubai
Background of the United Arab Emirates
Located on the banks of the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Qatar, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was created in 1971 (see Exhibit 1). It included seven independently ruled citiesb, with Abu Dhabi serving as the capital (see Exhibit 2 for economic variables). As a member of...