Seaworld Middle East project moves one step closer

28 February 2016

Scale of project is expected to be significant

Seaworld’s plans for building a theme park have moved one step closer after the US firm revealed it has added to its memorandum of understanding with its local partner and has entered into an international advisory service agreement.

“We are pleased to announce progress in our international expansion,” said Joel Manby, president and CEO of Seaworld Parks & Entertainment. “Last week we moved to the next phase of our inter[national] development strategy with our Middle East partner, extending our memorandum of understanding and entering into an international advisory service agreement. Under that agreement, certain funding will offset some level of our internal expenses as we now move toward definitive agreements.”

The scale of the scheme is expected to be significant for Seaworld. “I don’t want to anticipate too many international things because the Middle East project alone is very substantial over time; we can only focus on so many things,” said Manby, responding to analysts questions on an investor conference call on 25 February.

Seaworld has not revealed the location of the park. The company had previously planned to build a park on Dubai’s Palm Jebel Ali before the 2008 global financial crisis. More recent comments on the internet have suggested the scheme could be built on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, where other theme parks are being built.

The recent progress on the project demonstrates the development should continue despite the ongoing uncertainty that many schemes in the region face due to lower oil prices.

“Because of the pressures in the Middle East with oil prices, you would almost expect this not to happen, but we have already adjusted our build costs a little bit, got it more inline and that is all moving forward at a proper pace,” said Manby. “We are pleased that given the oil price situation we are still moving forward.”

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