Doha to get first Angry Birds playground in the Middle East

Doha Festival City is gaining a new attraction:  Angry Birds World
Doha Festival City is gaining a new attraction: Angry Birds World

Dubai might have the tallest building, but the city of Doha in Qatar is getting the first Angry Birds playground.

The themed installation is part of the Doha Festival City’s Family Entertainment Complex, a space of more than 4.3 million square feet that cost approximately $1.78 billion, according to reports last year.

Doha Festival City offers a lot more, such as dining and food court areas, a 4-D cinema facility, and other educational youth experience installations such as Juniverse, a role-playing park, and Virtuocity, an electronic sporting area with motor sports simulators.

The Angry Birds addition, Angry Birds World, will feature 35 indoor and outdoor attractions and opportunities for youngsters to play with larger-than-life Angry Birds characters as they make their way through the park.

With Qatari officials so proud to introduce the Finnish gaming company’s cosmopolitan characters to one of their central entertainment attractions, it begs the question of how much Western and international iconography might get built into local cities and what type of tourism the region is trying to attract.

“All of the economies are trying to diversify.” Butch Herod, director of the West Houston Institute at Houston Community College, told the Gulf News Journal. 

Herod spent a lot of time in Qatar as dean of the college's satellite school there.

“They’re understanding that they need to find things for their people to do and provide things for visitors,” Herod said. “They want their people to be active and have opportunities.”

At the same time, Herod said, many Qataris are particular about the types of development they want to do, and the types of tourism they want to generate.

“Qataris have made it clear they want modernization, but not Westernization.” Herod said, explaining the desire to keep traditional elements of Qatari culture intact. “They want to make sure they protect the bounds of propriety.”

For instance, Herod said, many public events in Qatar are family themed because there are still rules about unescorted males and females informally “hanging out” together. Also, some restrictions on alcohol mean there is a limit to what kinds of attractions get put into areas like the Doha Family Experience.

But, Herod said, while Dubai is often seen as the pre-eminent tourist hub and cosmopolitan capital of the region, leaders in Qatar and Saudi Arabia are looking at innovative ways to compete and make their countries attractive for visitors.

As for the new Angry Birds family theme park, a new Angry Birds movie got a special screening in the park on May 12 when it was released worldwide – the movie won't be released in the U.S. until May 20. So a lot of excited kids in Doha saw the film a couple of weeks before those living stateside.

"The Rovio team is extremely delighted to support this special screening of the Angry Birds Movie for our valued fans and friends.” Rovio Entertainment's Chief Commercial Officer Alex Lambeek said in a press release. “The movie brilliantly captures the magnitude of fun and excitement that Qatar's Angry Birds World would bring to its visitors upon its launch.”

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