Dubai’s biggest theme park to launch ‘Hunger Games’ attractions

Dubai Parks and Resorts is rolling out a series of attractions inspired by “The Hunger Games” films, as it aims to boost visitor numbers and stem losses. (Reuters)
Updated 20 August 2017
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Dubai’s biggest theme park to launch ‘Hunger Games’ attractions

LONDON: Dubai’s biggest theme park is about to roll out a series of attractions inspired by “The Hunger Games” films, as it aims to boost visitor numbers and stem losses.
Dubai Parks and Resorts said its new Lionsgate zone would feature the world’s first rides and attractions inspired by the blockbuster movies.
Visitors will be able to take a hair-raising journey from District 12 to the Capitol on a half-pipe rollercoaster, the Capitol Bullet Train, and enjoy a 3D flight that soars over Panem.
“This is Dubai Parks and Resorts’ first full winter season, and our focus is on delivering new experiences and competitive prices to bring visitors back time and again,” said David Loiseau, vice president of sales and distribution.
“This season, ‘The Hunger Games’ fans from across the globe will be able to experience rides inspired by the blockbuster movie franchise that have never been seen anywhere in the world before.”
Mounting losses at DXB Entertainments (DXBE), which operates the theme park, have led the Dubai-listed company to reorganize its business less than a year after opening its doors.
It said this month that it had lost 286.2 million dirhams ($77.9 million) in the second quarter of the year, compared with 41.3 million dirhams a year earlier.
Riverland Dubai, the themed dining, retail and entertainment district at the center of the development, on Sunday announced a series of free events as it seeks to boost visitor numbers.
Dubai’s leisure and entertainment sector has felt the impact of slowing economic growth and a strong US dollar, to which the UAE currency is pegged, making it more expensive for tourists traveling from the euro zone, the UK and many other countries.
– Reuters


Malaysia reviews China infrastructure plans

Malaysia’s former PM Najib Razak (AFP)
Updated 18 June 2018
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Malaysia reviews China infrastructure plans

  • Malaysia's scandal-mired former PM Najib Razak signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.
  • New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced a planned high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and neighboring Singapore will not go ahead as he seeks to reduce the country’s huge national debt.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been a loyal partner in China’s globe-spanning infrastructure drive, but its new government is to review Beijing-backed projects, threatening key links in the much-vaunted initiative.

Kuala Lumpur’s previous regime, led by scandal-mired Najib Razak, had warm ties with China, and signed a string of deals for Beijing-funded projects, including a major rail link and a deep-sea port.

But the long-ruling coalition was unexpectedly voted out last month by an electorate alienated by allegations of corruption and rising living costs.

Critics have said that many agreements lacked transparency, fueling suspicions they were struck in exchange for help to pay off debts from the financial scandal which ultimately helped bring down Najib’s regime.

The new government, led by political heavyweight Mahathir Mohammed, has pledged to review Chinese deals seen as dubious, calling into question Malaysia’s status as one of Beijing’s most cooperative partners in its infrastructure push.

China launched its initiative to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes with a global network of ports, roads and railways — dubbed “One Belt, One Road” —  in 2013.

Malaysia and Beijing ally Cambodia were seen as bright spots in Southeast Asia, with projects in other countries often facing problems, from land acquisition to drawn-out negotiations with governments.

“Malaysia under Najib moved quickly to approve and implement projects,” Murray Hiebert, a senior associate from think-tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told AFP.

Chinese foreign direct investment into Malaysia stood at just 0.8 percent of total net FDI inflows in 2008, but that figure had risen to 14.4 percent by 2016, according to a study from Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

However, Hiebert said it was “widely assumed” that Malaysia was striking quick deals with China in the hope of getting help to cover debts from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

Najib and his associates were accused of stealing huge sums of public money from the investment vehicle in a massive fraud. Public disgust at the allegations — denied by Najib and 1MDB — helped topple his government.

Malaysia’s first change of government in six decades has left Najib facing a potential jail term.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced a planned high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and neighboring Singapore will not go ahead as he seeks to reduce the country’s huge national debt.

The project was in its early stages and had not yet received any Chinese funding as part of “One Belt, One Road.” But Chinese companies were favorites to build part of the line, which would have constituted a link in a high-speed route from China’s Yunnan province to trading hub Singapore, along which Chinese goods could have been transported for export.

Work has already started in Malaysia on another line seen as part of that route, with Chinese funding — the $14-billion East Coast Rail Link, running from close to the Thai border to a port near Kuala Lumpur.

Mahathir has said that agreement is now being renegotiated.

Other Chinese-funded initiatives include a deep-sea port in Malacca, near important shipping routes, and an enormous industrial park.

It is not clear yet which projects will be amended but experts believe axing some will be positive.

Alex Holmes, Asia economist for Capital Economics, backed canceling some initiatives, citing “Malaysia’s weak fiscal position and that some of the projects are of dubious economic value.”

The Chinese foreign ministry did not respond to request for comment.

Decoder

What is the "ne Belt, One Road" initiative?

The “One Belt, One Road” initiative, started in 2013, has come to define the economic agenda of President Xi Jinping. It aims to revive ancient Silk Road trading routes with a network of ports, roads and railways.