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DUBAI, UAE-London-based Merlin Entertainments Group and Tatweer plan to break ground in 2009 on a three-million-sf Legoland in Dubailand. The 69-acre project will cost AED 912 million or $248.65 million.

A spokeswoman for Legoland tells GlobeSt.com that Tatweer is providing the land and funding Merlin’s first foray outside North America and Europe while Merlin’s role is that of creative development and operator of the project, slated to open in late 2011. The alliance partners are discussing development of Legoland hotels and possibly adding other entertainment-related flags from Merlin’s portfolio.

“Choosing this location for the new Legoland Park reflects the fact that Dubai is becoming a major holiday destination, not only for the region, but for visitors worldwide,” Nick Varney, Merlin’s CEO, says in yesterday’s press release. The design team has just started to work on the plan.

Legoland’s popular mini-city attraction will feature architectural landmarks of the Dubai skyline. Miniland Dubai’s first model is done: a 17-foot, 9-inch replica of the Burj Dubai, designed by Legoland California master model designer Eric Hunter. More than 140,000 LEGO bricks were used to complete the model, which took 1,342 hours for builders to research, design and construct.

Legoland Dubailand will feature more than 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions geared toward children from two to 12 years old. It will be similar to Merlin’s four parks in Denmark, Germany, England and California.

“The partnership demonstrates our dedication to deliver on the tourism objectives of Dubai Strategic Plan 2015, announced by his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai,” says Saeed Al Muntafiq, executive chairman of the three-year-old Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding. The three-billion-sf Dubailand has been designed to catapult the country into an international hub of family tourism.

Dubailand’s roster includes Bawadi, Tiger Woods Dubai, Universal Studios, Global Village, Six Flags, HIT Entertainment and FreeJ Dubailand. Its coups to date have won the world’s first DreamWorks animation park and Marvel’s first Super Heroes park totaling 4.5 million sf.

The Dubailand vision is a mix of theme parks, eco-tourism projects, malls, restaurants and residential units. If the alliance is expanded, Merlin’s portfolio could supply attractions like Madame Tussauds, Sea Life, the London Eye, Dungeons, Chessington World of Adventures. Earth Explorer, Gardaland, Pepsi Globe, Thorpe Park and Warwick Castle.

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