Qatar to build $5.5bn theme park ‘bigger than Disney’s Magic Kingdom’

Simaisma project near Doha to span 8 million square metres, as Gulf state looks to boost tourism industry

MEE staff

Men play football at Katara beach in Doha in December 2022 (AFP/Gabriel Bouys)
Men play football at Katara beach in Doha in December 2022 (AFP/Gabriel Bouys)

Qatar is to begin work on a 20 billion riyal ($5.5bn) tourism development, centring around a huge amusement park, according to a recent report in Bloomberg. 

The project, known as Simaisma, will be located 40 minutes north of the capital Doha, spanning 8 million square metres. 

Around 7km of it will be along the beachfront, and it is to include an 18-hole golf course, 300 villas, a marina and beach club, homes and shops. 

It will be developed by the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, a subsidiary of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

“The anchor is the theme park and that phase will be coming first to attract more people to come and invest,” Qatari Diar chief Ali Mohamed Al-Ali told Bloomberg. “It’s part of the government strategy to diversify the economy and invest in the tourism pillar.”

The investment company is in discussions with global park operators to manage the amusement park. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, the US and European countries have expressed interest in the project, according to Ali. 

The 650,000 square metre park is expected to be bigger than Walt Disney Co’s Magic Kingdom in Florida. 

It forms part of Doha’s efforts to boost the tourism industry and diversify the economy away from gas. According to Bloomberg, Qatari officials say they want tourism to contribute 12 percent of the country’s GDP by 2030. 

Part of that strategy includes hosting sporting events, building on the success of the 2022 Fifa World Cup. Doha is to host Fifa Arab Cup next year, as well as the Basketball World Cup in 2027.

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