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Legoland becomes first brick in Dubai's southern expansion

access_time Oct 31,2016 chat_bubble_outline 101 views
Legoland becomes first brick in Dubai's southern expansion
Legoland becomes first brick in Dubai's southern expansion
[/i]People arrive for the opening of Legoland Dubai, part of the larger Dubai Parks & Resorts project, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Oct. 27, 2016. A massive complex of amusement parks in the southern deserts of Dubai has opened its first park, a Legoland complete with models of the sheikhdom's architectural wonders. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A massive amusement complex in Dubai's southern desert opened its first park on Monday — a Legoland with interlocking plastic blocks that both model the sheikhdom's architectural wonders and represent the first bricks laid in developing the expanse.

Much of the planned Dubai Parks & Resorts project worth over $3 billion remains under construction along the dusty highway connecting Dubai to the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi.

In four years, however, Dubai's rulers envision 25 million people coming to the area as part of the 2020 World Expo, or world's fair. Dubai already has plans to one day handle over 200 million passengers a year at the nearby Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, as well as extend its driverless metro into these dunes far past its current terminus near the massive Jebel Ali Port.

"A lot of things are happening already; we are not on our own," Legoland Dubai general manager Siegfried Boerst told The Associated Press. "It's not that we're in the desert anymore."

Previously, the limits of tourist-friendly Dubai ended when the tall towers of the Dubai Marina gave way to the industrial expanse of power plants and aluminum smelters in the city-state's south. Now, both private and state-backed developers are rushing into the area ahead of the World Expo.

One of the biggest bettors on the area is Dubai Parks & Resorts, which plans a series of attractions over 25 square kilometers (9.5 square miles). Beyond Legoland, the complex plans a movie-themed Motiongate park, a Bollywood park, a hotel and shopping district and even a Six Flags by late 2019.

The company, trading under the name DXB Entertainments, lists its biggest shareholder with a 52-percent stake as Meraas, a firm backed by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Qatar Holding LLC, a subsidiary of Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, holds 11 percent of the company, according to data from the Dubai Financial Market stock exchange. The firm's stock closed down 6 percent Monday to 1.57 dirhams (43 cents) a share.

Dubai, already home to the long-haul airline Emirates, luxury malls and the world's tallest building in the Burj Khalifa, already is a tourist draw. Authorities hope to have 20 million tourists visit a year by 2020, up from 14.2 million overnight visitors last year.

Part of that involves broadening out Dubai's tourist charm from just hard-partying adults. Legoland fits into that, as does the recently opened IMG Worlds of Adventure indoor amusement park.

"There is so much more for the kids," said Andrew Whitt of St. John's in Newfoundland, Canada, who took his family to Legoland on Monday. "It's nice to have more of this environment rather than just sit on a beach."

But his family's quick duck inside an air-conditioned portion of the park showed the challenge facing the amusement complex. While Dubai is cooling down for the winter, its scorching summertime temperatures easily reach above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) with high humidity. Parts of Legoland offered covered walkways, but others involve walking in direct sunlight.

"We designed Legoland specifically with the climate of the Middle East in mind," Boerst said. "There's shade all over the place, so people don't need to be outside in the heat for a long time."

And inside the air-conditioned cool of the park's Miniland, the park's over 60 million Lego bricks can be seen in models of Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Dubai Creek and even a version of India's Taj Mahal. One can even walk down a Lego-version of high-rises towering over the dozen-lane Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, complete with a running metro line.

At the center is a 17-meter-tall replica of the Burj Khalifa, made of 439,000 Legos that took over 5,000 hours to construct — complete with a skydiving Lego mini-figure.

"It's amazing. I'm an adult but I feel like a kid right now," said Rajashree Vichare, 28, of Mumbai, India. "I want to play with every Lego toy right now."


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Travel - Yahoo News
Miss. fire chief: Blaze at African-American church was arson

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Somebody set the fire that heavily damaged an African-American church that was also spray-painted with the phrase "Vote Trump," and an $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the conviction of whoever did it, a Mississippi fire chief said Wednesday.The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation of the Tuesday night fire at the 200-member Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, and Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the fire and graffiti a hate… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Delayed Haiti elections to take place November 20: official

Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Haiti is due to hold long-delayed presidential and legislative elections on November 20, followed by a second round on January 29, its Provisional Electoral Council said Friday.Haitians had been due to head to the polls last week, but the vote was postponed due to the havoc caused by deadly Hurricane Matthew.At least 473 people were killed when Matthew crashed ashore on October 4 as a monster Category 4 storm, packing winds of 145 miles (230 kilometers) per hour.The… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Cyber attack likely mitigated, US Homeland Security says

Washington (AFP) - The cyber attack which darkened a large portion of the US internet on Friday has been mitigated, but officials continue to monitor the situation, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday.The domain name services company Dynamic Network Services Inc, or Dyn, suffered successive attacks, causing outages for hours for millions of users of brand-name internet services such as Twitter, Spotify and Netflix. Services began to stabilize on Friday afternoon.Dyn said it was… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Trump names Don McGhan as White House Counsel: transition official

WASHINGTON/WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Don McGhan, a well-known campaign finance lawyer, as his White House counsel and K.T. McFarland, a national security analyst, to be his deputy national security adviser, a transition official said on Friday.(Reporting by Steve Holland, writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Chris Reese) World - Yahoo News chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Girls 'aged 7 or 8' stage suicide attack in Nigeria

Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - Two young girls approximately seven or eight years old blew themselves up in a northeastern Nigerian market on Sunday, killing themselves and one other person and wounding 18 others, sources said.The girls were "seven or eight", a local militia member in Maiduguri, Abdulkarim Jabo, told AFP.The attack was not immediately claimed by Boko Haram but bore the hallmarks of the jihadists, who routinely use women and girls to carry out suicide attacks, often in Borno state, the… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

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