Dubai architect seeks funding for Herbie theme park

The themed tourist attraction would feature cars from the 'Herbie' Disney movies

A Dubai-based architect is seeking investors to launch a theme park in Dubai based around the famous Disney VW Bug Herbie, Arabian Business has learned.

Graham Henderson, owner of design firm Palmerstone, hopes to attract financing to build the project in Dubai after initial plans to bring the themed venue to Abu Dhabi fell through.

“The people in Abu Dhabi weren’t terrible supportive so we want to bring it to Dubai,” he said.

“I have a consignment of the original Herbie cars which are coming from a private collector… I think it would work really well at Dubai Autodrome. They can’t finance it but there is certain land available on the track we could use.”

The car collection includes the vehicles that appeared in the movies ‘Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo’ and the 2005 movie ‘Herbie: Fully Loaded’, which starred actress Lindsay Lohan.

“Imagine if you could pay for a lap in the Autodrome in Lindsay Lohan’s car,” said Henderson. “It is better than Ferrari World.”

Initial designs for ‘Herbieland’ include a central building in the shape of a giant baseball, which would house a museum, workshop and café.

The UAE plans to attract 15 million tourists by 2020 under efforts to diversify its petrodollar-driven economy. The capital is spending billions on visitor attractions such as Ferrari World and the Yas and Saadiyat island developments, in a bid to establish itself as a holiday destination.

Dubai unveiled the AED335bn Dubailand development at the peak of its real estate boom, featuring tie-ups with Universal Studios and Legoland and the world’s largest shopping mall.

The resort, which was originally slated to be twice the size of Walt Disney World, stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Dubailand said in August it was in talks to renegotiate four projects in the resort and planned to unveil details of a sustainable city by the end of 2012.

The president of UAE conglomerate BinHendi Enterprises said in May that Dubai needed an entertainment resort on the size and scale of Disneyland if it is to establish itself as a global tourism destination.

Though Walt Disney Company was mooted in May as a potential partner for stalled Dubailand, the company has since said it has no plans to open in the region.

“We continually look for opportunities to grow our business and as a part of that process, we have conversations with many different entities,” a Walt Disney Company spokesperson said.

“While Dubai is an attractive market, we currently have no plans for the region.”

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