Over US$1 trillion committed to developing the region’s Leisure Landscape.

A staggering US$1.006 trillion (US$1006 billion) has been committed
to Leisure projects across the region. Development of the ‘Leisure
Landscape’ is a critical part of a total travel and tourism
investment of $3.63 trillion encompassing hotels, leisure projects,
aviation developments, cruise lines, tourism promotion and supporting
infrastructure, across the Middle East, according to the latest findings
of a major region wide research programme unveiled today.

The Middle East Leisure Landscape 2020 is the latest report from a
groundbreaking research study by the think tank Fast Future and Global
Futures and Foresight (GFF) on the Future of Travel and Tourism in the
Middle East. The study covers 13 Middle Eastern countries for the period
to 2020.

The findings of the study will be shared at a programme of Fast
Future seminars to be run on January 20th and 21st on the Nakheel stand
at the TDIM08 show at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition

The study is sponsored by the Hotel Show, Siraj Capital, Nakheel,
Silverjet and ASAE and the Center. Strategic partners on the study are
the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), IMEX Frankfurt and Fusion
Marketing Management.

“The sheer scale of the spending on travel and tourism across
the Middle East demands an equivalent level of investment in the
supporting leisure landscape if the region is to succeed in attracting
the visitor levels it is targeting. The research highlights that there
is clearly the ambition, vision and funding in place to develop a range
of world class leisure offerings across the region,” said Rohit
Talwar the report’s co-author and CEO of Fast Future and GFF.

Fast Future conducted detailed research into the published plans,
press announcements and general media coverage for 166 different
projects and programmes across 13 countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Iran,
Jordan Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, the
UAE and Yemen.

The three largest spending locations identified were Dubai with
US$381.4 billion worth of projects either underway or planned, Saudi
Arabia with initiatives valued at a total of US$184.4 billion and Abu
Dhabi at $131.3 billion in new projects. At the macro level, the biggest
individual developer is Tatweer with US$170 billion of projects with
Dubailand alone accounting for $110 billion of this. Aldar is the second
highest with US$71.1 billion worth of developments in the pipeline.
Emaar is developing US$16.5 billion of projects but if its stakes in
joint ventures such as King Abdullah Economic City are considered, the
total value of projects in which it is involved rises to US$136.5

Of the US$1.006 trillion worth of developments identified, US$171.8
billion s been committed for pure leisure projects – covering
developments such as museums and theme parks. A further US$218.3 billion
is being invested in development of leisure resorts. A total of US$611.9
billion worth of mixed use initiatives were identified – covering
projects such as residential or commercial developments with a large
leisure component.

The largest individual projects identified included King Abdullah
Economic City in Saudi Arabia valued at US$120 billion, the US$110
billion Dubailand themepark, Kuwait’s US$86 billion City of Silk
development and the US$61 billion Arabian Canal development in Dubai.

“We are trying to build a clear and objective picture of how
the region’s travel and tourism proposition will develop and how
the leisure landscape will evolve within this overall picture. The
greatest challenge is finding clear and consistent numbers on the
investments – for example there is little data available from most
developers on how the budgets split out across mixed use
developments,” said Tim Hancock of Fast Future – the lead
researcher and co-author of the report.

The study also highlights the scale of the challenge facing the
developers and operators of these projects to ensure they are
economically, environmentally and socially sustainable over the long

“To compete for visitors’ attention, these projects will
need to develop strong branding and clearly differentiated propositions.
The scale of resources required to build and operate these facilities
will place a huge demand on critical resources such as water and create
major environmental pressures. Finally, the region is already facing the
risk of project delays on existing developments due to a shortage of
skilled workers. These new developments will only increase those
problems. A particular concern is the growing shortage of project
management talent capable of delivering these multi-million and
multi-billion pound developments. All three of these sustainability
challenges will need to be addressed in a strategic manner if developers
are to ensure the long-term viability of their investments,” said

The Future of Travel and Tourism in the Middle East – A vision to
2020The overall study takes a futures perspective on the trends and
drivers shaping travel and tourism in the region to 2020 and beyond.
Free copies of previous reports can be found at www.thegff.com

The current phase of research will run to June 2008 with a major
report to be published at the Hotel Show in Dubai. In the period to June
2008 Fast Future will also publish a series of interim reports covering
the 2020 outlook for aviation, the hotel sector, environment and
sustainability, the meetings, incentives, conferences and events sector
and competitive challenges such as human resource availability and
deployment of travel technology.