Ferrari Theme Abu Dhabi

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 11/06/2007 02:24:00 PM
The sports car maker Ferrari is one of the most storied names in automotive, sports, and even branding history. Its name evokes images of fast cars, good times, Italian glamour, and la dolce vita. In my fertile imagination, the name conjures an image of Marcello Mastroianni blasting down the autostrada in a Ferrari 275 GTS with Anita Ekberg in tow while Andy Williams croons on the stereo. (Andy Williams? The Ferrari 275 GTS had a stereo? Well, it's my dream ;-) Given this lineage, would you expect Ferrari to open a tourist attraction extolling its storied history in...Abu Dhabi? Let's just say you won't be seeing scantily clad "pit babes" that get your heart racing when you visit the upcoming $624M Ferrari theme park in the rather repressive emirate. What's driving this deal? Money, money, and some more money, obviously. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) is said to have $875B at its disposal and other denizens of the place certainly have more. The theme park is of a piece with the upcoming 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

One attraction I would like to make to the managers of the theme park is a "Michael Schumacher Bumper Car Ride." The seven-time world champion is infamous for bumping into rivals Damon Hill (which worked) and Jacques Villeneuve (which didn't work) to ensure his championship lead would stay intact. Oh well, on to the story. From F1 Live:
A Foundation Stone ceremony was held last Saturday in Abu Dhabi to officially signify the start of construction of one of the most multi-dimensional and highly anticipated themed entertainment attractions in the world, the Ferrari Theme Park.

Officials and special guests in attendance for the event included Ferrari's President Luca di Montezemolo and Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman, ALDAR Properties, as well as invited guests representing media, government and business organizations from around the world.

During the Foundation Stone ceremony a special time capsule was buried, containing a conrod and piston of the F2007, the F1 World Champion Ferrari car, together with the first artist's impression of the Ferrari Theme Park on Yas Island. The capsule will be opened again during Ferrari's 100th anniversary, in 2047.

"This is a very special year for Ferrari," Luca di Montezemolo said. "Together with the extraordinary commercial success of our GT cars, it brought to Maranello the F1 Constructors' World Championship and the F1 Drivers' World Championship with Kimi Raikkonen, and I am particularly proud to be present to mark the symbolic start of this project."

"Moreover, 2007 is the year of Ferrari's 60th anniversary, and this ceremony has therefore a further, important meaning," he added.

Part of a joint project between Italian automotive manufacturer Ferrari and ALDAR Properties PJSC, the 250,000sqm park (80,000 of them covered) will be a unique oasis of discovery, hospitality and beauty that captures the culture, flavour and true spirit of Italian country, as well as the legendary automotive history, feeling and heritage of Ferrari cars and racing.

"Today is a celebration of the first step along the way to making the world's first Ferrari theme park a reality with the laying of the foundation stone," commented Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, underlining the ambition "to create a destination that resonates with sports lovers around the world."

When completed in 2009, the attraction will provide amusement for the whole family, featuring multi-format high tech theatres, a variety of sophisticated driving schools (for both children and adults), Ferrari automotive displays and participatory learning centres as well as food and entertainment.

Among the 24 attractions, the park will offer a mix of high-octane and family rides with roller coasters jetting into the sky and dipping through the covered areas. At the heart of the park will be an advanced and sophisticated circuit offering driving courses, which will be the home of the first Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix in 2009.