Angry Birds battle in the Middle East


Yas Waterworld, just next to Ferrari World, in Abu Dhabi

Those countries in the Middle East that have been spared political upheaval find themselves enmeshed in a different sort of battle of late. As Qatar, the UAE and Jordan split what’s left of the region’s tourists, each is fighting to pull in the lion’s share. Their weapon of choice? Theme parks.

Currently, Abu Dhabi and its scrappier sibling, Al Ain, are duking it out with Doha for the rights to build the region’s first Angry Birds theme park.

Not surprisingly, the Middle Eastern version of Angry Bird Land (there are already outlets in Finland, Singapore and the UK) would also be the world’s largest.

“[The competition] is getting quiet fierce,” says Nigel Cann, director of operations and development at Gebal Group, the local agents for Lappset, who first developed the brand’s entertainment complex.

“They all want to find a space for it, and to do it as soon as they can. They all want to be first.”

As one of the most downloaded apps of all times (the game has amassed 1.7 billion downloads since launching in 2010), Angry Birds’ name recognition is almost unbeatable.

Though it is a global phenomenon, it’s proved particularly popular in the region. Over a fifth of all downloads come from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Rovio Entertainment, the developers of the game, are even toying with the idea of creating a localized version of the game…

Just a reminder that often portions of the world with too much money, little or no democracy, even less good taste, will spend enormous sums of money to impress the neighbors and visitors. Sound like someplace in your neck of the prairie?

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