Dubai company borrows $1.6b to build F1 theme parks

The Emirates are gearing up for the opening of FerrariWorld in Abu Dhabi, but they won't have the monopoly for long, it seems. Union Properties, a real estate development company based in nearby Dubai, has secured the rights from Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management to construct a series of F1 theme parks around the world.

Wait a second, a series? Not just one? That's right. Union Properties is thinking big, and spending big. The first will be built in Dubai, with construction set to begin soon with a targeted opening date in 2009... right around the same time as FerrariWorld is set to open its doors. The company anticipates signing a deal for the second park some time this year, likely to be constructed somewhere in Europe. A third park in the Far East would be the next location, but Union Properties would be wise to take things one step at a time and take a page out of the Disney playbook. Disney's theme parks steadily grew in size and number over the span of decades, and while parks in Anaheim, Orlando and Tokyo might be raking in the dough (or is that the Dow?), EuroDisney was not quite the runaway success they'd hoped for.

One thing's for sure, Union isn't cheaping out on the cost. The Dubai park is budgeted for $360 million, and the company is borrowing $1.6 billion to build 'em all. This should be interesting.


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