Meraas adds Dubai Safari to its portfolio of leisure destinations

Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, Meraas has signed an agreement with Dubai Municipality to manage Dubai Safari, the region’s latest landmark leisure and entertainment attraction.

Meraas has also appointed Parques Reunidos, a world-renowned operator of animal parks, to oversee the day-to-day running of the destination in line with international best practices.

The signing ceremony was also attended by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation. The unique public-private sector partnership aligns with Dubai’s Tourism Vision for 2020 that seeks to attract 20 million visitors per year to the Emirates. It also supports Dubai’s preparations for Expo 2020 which will be held over a period of six months and is expected to attract about 25 million visitors, 70 percent of them from outside the country.

Valuable Partnerships
The collaboration is aligned with Dubai Municipality’s efforts to forge productive synergies that contribute to the achievement of its strategic goals and the development of a happy, sustainable city. Meraas’s extensive capabilities and in-depth expertise in the leisure and entertainment sector across its wide variety of projects led to the decision to appoint the company as the representative in dealing with Parques Reunidos.

His Excellency Dawood Al Hajri, Director General of Dubai Municipality, said: “The agreement with Meraas is the first partnership of its kind that Dubai Municipality is entering into with a private sector entity. It presents a valuable opportunity to train Emirati talent in new fields as per the requirements of the local market, and develop additional skills in a variety of sectors in line with Dubai’s growth. Given Meraas’s successful track record in managing ventures in diverse sectors, we are confident that this partnership will result in tangible outcomes, elevate the standards of operating tourism and leisure projects, and add value to the overall Dubai Safari experience.”

Support and Expertise
The agreement appoints Meraas to represent Dubai Municipality in liaising with the operator, and entrusts the company with the responsibility for general supervision and performance management of Dubai Safari, in addition to leading its marketing efforts. Meraas will also develop plans, to be implemented over the next two years, aimed at creating unique experiences and establishing the destination as one of the premier wildlife parks in the world, expected to attract two million visitors annually. The company seeks to promote Dubai Safari and its other destinations through one preferentially priced entry ticket to encourage residents and visitors to benefit from the city’s rich leisure offering.

His Excellency Abdulla Al Habbai, Group Chairman of Meraas, said: “Following this agreement, Dubai Safari has been included as a key value addition in Meraas’s comprehensive entertainment portfolio. Meraas is dedicated to implementing the vision of our wise leadership of reinforcing Dubai’s position as a global tourist destination. The agreement also aims to support wildlife conservation efforts, through developing the skills of the local community in relevant fields, including veterinary medicine, animal care and breeding.”

Over the past five years, Meraas has expanded its business in the leisure and entertainment industry and invested in an innovative portfolio valued at AED18 billion. The portfolio includes unique destinations and attractions such as Dubai Parks and Resorts, Roxy Cinemas, Hub Zero, Mattel Play! Town, The Green Planet, Dubai Arena at City Walk, Ain Dubai at Bluewaters and the upcoming Laguna Waterpark at La Mer.

The agreement highlights Meraas’s role in augmenting the variety of attractions available to Dubai’s residents and visitors, and creating a vibrant environment where people can explore, learn, innovate and enjoy themselves. Moreover, it reflects the company’s commitment to reinforcing the City’s status as a global tourism hub.

International Standards
Parques Reunidos will operate Dubai Safari in accordance with international standards on animal welfare, providing a safe and healthy environment for animals. The operator will ensure that Dubai Safari offers exceptional experiences that surpass global benchmarks and is certified from concerned bodies. The company will also collaborate with schools to organise educational programmes.

Parques Reunidos was among five global players that were considered to operate Dubai Safari. It was chosen based on the positivity and adaptability it exhibited, and its team of over 300 staff members dedicated to animal care that can be mobilised to support Dubai Safari. Parques Reunidos also offers global educational programmes aimed at raising awareness about wildlife and natural ecosystems. In addition to operating the destination, Parques Reunidos will conduct studies of Dubai’s nature reserves, and provide consultation on the conservation and breeding of local endangered animal species including the Oryx and the Arabian Leopard.

Fernando Eiroa, CEO of Parques Reunidos said: “We are delighted to have been entrusted by Meraas, with the operation of a project as remarkable as Dubai Safari. This agreement aligns with our continued international expansion efforts and offers us a valuable opportunity to leverage the expertise we have accumulated through the management of leading wildlife parks and reserves around the world. Furthermore, it validates the successful partnership we have built with Meraas through collaborating on some of the company’s exciting entertainment projects.”

Based in Madrid, Parques Reunidos manages over 60 leisure destinations, including waterparks, zoos and marine parks, in 14 countries across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, receiving approximately 20 million visitors per year. Meraas appointed the company in 2014 to operate MOTIONGATE™ Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai at Dubai Parks and Resorts, part of the DXB Entertainments’ portfolio.

Dubai Safari
In December 2017, Dubai Municipality launched the pilot phase of Dubai Safari, a 12.8 million sq ft area of land that is home to more than 2,500 animals from around the world. Dubai Safari offers an open safari experience, giving visitors the opportunity to see animals in an environment that recreates their habitat. The destination includes a Kids’ Farm that enables youngsters to closely interact with animals in a safe outdoor setting, and the Wadi Area, where guests can enjoy a relaxing picnic by the waterfall.

In addition to serving as a leisure attraction, Dubai Safari aims to help protect the environment through wildlife conservation. To support these efforts, the destination plans to promote wildlife education through knowledge exchange, awareness programmes, sustainability initiatives and research studies.

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