Australian firm to build world’s biggest robotic dinosaurs park

Updated 12 August 2013
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Australian firm to build world’s biggest robotic dinosaurs park

SYDNEY: Eccentric Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer was Thursday given the green light to build “the world’s biggest” park of giant robotic dinosaurs, despite hundreds of objections filed by local residents.
A spokeswoman for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council said Palmer’s plan to erect up to 160 animatronic dinosaurs at his Coolum Resort was approved “unanimously by council this morning,” with local officials hoping for a tourism boost.
The exhibit will include five Tyrannosaurus rex robots, the largest towering at 8.5 meters (28 feet) in height, as well as a 10-meter Ruyangosaurus. The creatures, which are on order from China, will move their tails and chests and blink their eyes.
There are already two specimens on display at Coolum, north of Brisbane, and a third under construction, a Palmer spokesman told AFP.
“Jeff the T-rex is near the golf course pro shop, there is Bones the Skeleton and a giant crocodile is being installed,” the spokesman said.
“More dinosaurs are coming in the next few weeks.”
Palmer, a larger-than-life character who has made a fortune in mining and is currently building a replica of the Titanic to re-enact the ill-fated ship’s Atlantic voyage in 2016, has described Coolum as the world’s biggest dinosaur exhibit.
Asked earlier this year why he was building the Titanic replica, Palmer said: “I want to spend the money I’ve got before I die.”
The council said Coolum “has the potential to attract new patronage and maintain the economic viability of the resort,” rejecting local resident concerns about noise and fears the dinosaurs would lessen the resort’s reputation and image.
“The additional attractions form a minor part (approximately 1.3 hectares) of the 150 hectare resort,” it said.
It said the exhibits would be motion-sensor controlled and have a predetermined performance time, minimising noise, with a master volume control able to be adjusted “to ensure that they do not disturb either resort patrons or nearby residents.”
Palmer is also running for office in Australia’s national elections this year in an audacious and unlikely bid for the prime ministership.


Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

Saudi Arabia plans to create 1.2 million jobs in the tourism sector by 2030. (AN photo/Mo Gannon)
Updated 23 April 2018
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Tour operators and hotel groups sign up to Saudi tourism growth project

  • Vision 2030 has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry
  • We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed: tour operator

DUBAI: From diving in the Red Sea to sand-skating in the desert, from Jazan’s Fifa Mountains to the archaeological wonders of Al-Ula, it has been impossible not to be wowed by all that Saudi Arabia has to offer on the opening day of this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Travel posters of its varied regions blanketed almost every pillar in the concourse, through which thousands of visitors passed on their way into the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center, part of a colorful Saudi tourism campaign. 

And if you somehow missed that on your way into the exhibition halls, then you couldn’t have missed the Saudi pavilion, featuring 60 travel-related agencies under the umbrella of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

“We are participating here to show people that Saudi Arabia has really changed,” said Abeer Al-Rashed, project co-ordinator for Al Sarh Travel and Tourism, which organizes tours and helps with visa arrangements. “It’s not just a desert in Saudi Arabia. We have a lot of activities.”

The expanded role of tourism under Vision 2030, which has a goal to create 1.2 million new jobs in the industry, is top of mind for those with a foothold already in the region.

“We are thrilled at this accelerated pace of growth in Saudi Arabia and want to make sure that we’re aligned with that,” said Simon Casson, president of hotel operations for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its Riyadh hotel, Four Seasons’ first in the Gulf when it opened in 2002, is now offering a tour of the Tuwaiq escarpment, otherwise known as the Edge of the World. 

Four Seasons’ plans for a hotel in Makkah, announced in the fall, are in the design phase, with construction expected to begin next year. “The site of the hotel is really the last remaining piece of land that’s ringside, if you like, and has a direct view facing onto the Kaaba, so that will partner very well with our Riyadh hotel,” Casson said.

As for more hotels? “I would say stay-tuned because we’re actively working on other opportunities within Saudi Arabia — not things we can announce at this time but we see a tremendous amount of opportunity as we look forward.”

Omer Kaddouri, Rotana’s president and CEO, also sees tremendous potential. It’s operating four hotels in the Kingdom right now and will have three more by the end of the year. 

“They’re building more reasons to travel there,” Kaddouri said, speaking of the recent changes. “I’d like to say that by the time they’ve reached their 2030 vision, Rotana will have no less than 20 operating hotels in the Kingdom, with more in the pipeline.”

As for the long-awaited Nobu Hotel in Riyadh, Khaled Al-Ashqar, director of sales and marketing, said it’s “very close” to opening. The boutique hotel, with a restaurant by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, will also have a tea lounge and a live cooking station in the Royal Suite. “I’m 100 percent sure it will be the spot of the city,” Al-Ashqar said.