ABU DHABI (AFP) – Abu Dhabi on Saturday began work on building the world’s first Ferrari theme park, another step in the wealthy Gulf emirate’s ambition to become a global centre for leisure, sport and culture.
A ceremony was held for the laying of the project’s first foundation stone on Yas Island off the coast of the capital of the United Arab Emirates, project developer ALDAR said.
The 250,000-square-metre (62-acre) park is set for completion in 2009.
It will include a motor circuit which is to host the emirate’s first F1 Grand Prix in the same year, as well as roller coasters, multi-media theatres and automobile displays, ALDAR said in a statement.
An investment group owned by the government of oil-rich Abu Dhabi in July bought a five percent stake in Ferrari for 114 million dollars.
Warner Brothers announced in September it plans to open its own theme park in Abu Dhabi, which is already developing a satellite Louvre museum and staged its first international film festival earlier this year.
Abu Dhabi is one of seven emirates that make up the UAE, which also includes Dubai.
The booming city-state of Dubai has its own grand cultural aspirations. It already hosts an annual international film festival that is attended by high-profile Hollywood stars.
Earlier this year, Cirque du Soleil announced it would stage a permanent show on a huge artificial island off Dubai, and Universal Studios plans to build a theme park in the emirate at a cost of more than two billion dollars.