Big In Dubai

Less than a decade ago, Dubai was just a place in the desert that the Western world could not locate on a map (along with so many other places). But things are changing, including in the concert business.

As anticipated, AEG Live has established a permanent regional presence in Dubai, headed by Thomas Ovesen, the former general manager of Dubai-based Mirage Promotions, which Live Nation acquired last month. Pollstar previously reported that Ovesen would be named managing director of the Middle East division of AEG and begin operations in April.

Live Nation, with its newly acquired Mirage Promotions, is also a contender in Dubai.

They’ve come to the right place: In Dubai, construction is ongoing on a 10-square-mile area including amusement parks by Six Flags, DreamWorks Animation and Universal Studios. There are also museums, shopping and 55 hotels. At a cost of $64 billion, Dubailand is set to open between 2010 and 2012 and developers hope that by 2015 the park will attract 40,000 daily visitors, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Busch Entertainment is planning a Sea World in Dubai, set on an island the shape of a killer whale.

The Times pointed out that Dubai is one of the world’s fastest-growing tourism hot spots, with hotel occupancy at 85 percent and activities like snorkeling and indoor snow skiing. Other ongoing projects in the United Arab Emirates include the largest mall in the world and the Tiger Woods Dubai development, featured a championship-quality golf course, a hotel and 292 luxury homes.

Six Flags will feature the world’s tallest, fastest roller coaster, the Times said, and the company expects overseas growth to offset the struggling business of its 21 parks in North America.

"There’s no risk here," Six Flags CEO Mark Shapiro told the paper. "They’re launching a park in our name, which they’re paying us for brand exclusivity. They’re paying us to design and develop. They’re paying us for expertise and know-how."

AEG seems to be focusing on the Gulf Cooperative Countries, or GCC, which is composed of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Major U.S. companies are also planning theme parks in South Korea, Singapore, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi.