375 Leisure Operators Participate In & Contribute To The First-Ever MENA Leisure Industry Survey – MENA Leisure Report by MENALAC

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A pioneering annual report, the MENA Leisure Report will have a transformative impact on the region’s investment landscape

Dubai – After 14 months of scrupulously planning and building its groundbreaking MENA Leisure Report, MENALAC is proud to have successfully debuted the publication at a launch, virtual seminar, and an in-person networking event on October 20.

The hybrid event, physically hosted at the InterContinental Festival City as well as online, saw H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry unveil and launch the publication.

Sparking a new culture of sharing data and information within the region, the in-depth MENA Leisure Report would not have been possible without contributions from industry operators who have played a significant role in sharing valuable, validated data for the larger benefit of the industry. 

The in-person networking event attracted MENALAC Members alongside key operators and decision-makers from the Leisure & Attractions industry.

Introducing the region’s first MENA Leisure Report (MLR)

The first publication of its kind in the MENA region, the MENA Leisure Report provides enormous value to investors in the Leisure & Attractions industry.

In a nutshell, the publication is an extensive 400-page coffee table book, brimming with first-hand demographic, tourism, and leisure industry data for each country in the MENA region from Pakistan to Morocco.

With exclusive statistics about annual venue footfall to the average spend per person at Family Entertainment Centres and beyond, the MLR contains invaluable data that will help investors, developers and operators make informed business decisions, benchmark operations, and re-strategise.

Just some of the insights the MLR features are:

  • The Leisure & Entertainment industry generates an estimated USD 8.2 billion in revenue across the MENA region. 
  • Facility rent and employment costs are the biggest expenses for Leisure & Entertainment operators.
  • Tourists comprise 40% of amusement park visitors in the UAE.
  • Family Entertainment Centres (FECs) account for 96% of regional leisure and amusement businesses.
  • From 2018 to 2019, 15% of the facilities in Saudi Arabia and 10% of the facilities in the UAE reported a 15% rise in year-on-year customer growth;  40% of survey respondents across the GCC reported a 5% to 9% increase in year-on-year footfall.
  • 98% of the FECs in Saudi Arabia witness north of 400,000 visitors per year.
  • The average dwell time at FECs in the MENA region is 1-2 hours with an average spend per head of USD 30 per visit. 70% of FECs enjoy a high amount of repeat visits by the same customer, almost eight times per year.
  • With most countries within the GCC emphasising nationalisation, the number of nationals being employed within the Leisure & Entertainment industry is expected to increase by 5-10% year-on-year in the next five years.
  • The average annual revenue per FEC across the MENA region is USD 1.02 million. The MENA market is currently dominated by FECs.
  • 26% of FEC and Waterpark Operators are expected to expand across the MENA region while 33% of Theme Park Operators are keen to add new concepts and attractions to their existing parks. 15% of Trampoline Park Operators are looking to expand with new facilities within the country they currently operate in.

Prakash Vivekanand, Managing Director of The Zone Amusement Arcade & MENALAC Board Member shares, “The MLR is a treasure trove of industry data and insights. From an overview of national economies to household income and tourism trajectories, it is also a pictorial celebration of the wonderful MENA Leisure, Attractions and Entertainment industry, which has some of the best leisure concepts in the world”. 

He continues, “Search engines can only get you the information you need per country. While quite a lot of the data online is fairly accurate, one needs to search per country and be aware of the data strains that influence leisure facilities. The MENA Leisure Report (MLR) compiles such necessary data, validated by the council as a single publication. The primary aim of this report is to help business owners make informed decisions, while also holding informed opinions”.

He concludes, “The MENA Leisure Report (MLR) is an effort that has spanned 14 months. This book is a celebration of the wonderful MENA Leisure & Attractions industry. The benchmark survey that we have attempted for the very first time is loaded with a lot of regional data, essentially acting as a tool for investors to make informed decisions. The MLR will educate new investors about the regional industry’s state of play while validating what existing operators already know. I highly recommend it as a business strategy tool”.

The Report will be a bi-annual publication, with the next edition scheduled for 2023.

Panel Discussion – The Status of the MENA Leisure & Attractions Industry

An insightful panel discussion was hosted at the event, outlining the expertise within the MENA Leisure Report (MLR). Panellists included Jassim Al Qallaf, Business Development Manager, Play Enterprises – Kuwait, Mohamed Firdaus, General Manager, Loopagoon – Saudi Arabia, Anthony Bolsover, Sr. Manager – Rides Training & Compliance, Legoland Dubai, and Mark Tucker, General Manager, Adventureland – UAE & Morocco, and the hybrid discussion was moderated by Travis Kline, Regional Director of Operations, Whitewater.

Jassim Al Qallaf of Play Enterprises – Kuwait shared that Kuwait has swiftly recovered in the pandemic’s aftermath. Dining, retail, and entertainment are back on track. He also touched on how businesses can reignite customer interest in their brand, post-pandemic, saying that “marketing and advertising will help refresh brand awareness and exposure to your audience”. The Play Enterprises – Kuwait team used the lockdown as an opportunity to expand, with a fifth branch set to open in November 2021.

Mark Tucker of Adventureland – UAE & Morocco highlighted how operators can set themselves apart in the near future: “While technology is important, what’s more important is getting it right. Are you going to get a return on your investment? What works for Family Entertainment Centres – like VR – doesn’t necessarily translate to theme parks. It’s vital to consider the cost and practicality of adopting emerging technologies. At the same time, stay adventurous with your customers. Expand their horizons, and give your customers something new to enjoy. It’s wise to take calculated risks, and stay cautiously optimistic about the next big, shiny thing”.

MENALAC – Bringing Leisure & Attractions businesses together

The MLR is the first publication of its kind in the region, and has enjoyed the involvement of key MENA industry players including Al Hokair Group, Emaar Entertainment, Farah Experiences, Majid Al Futtaim, Al Othaim Leisure & Tourism Company, Landmark Leisure, Play Enterprises, and Ideacreate. 

The phenomenal MLR launch event was sponsored by Al Hokair Group, Play Enterprises, Abdullah Al Othaim Leisure Co, Bob’s Space Racers, and EMBED. DEAL 2022 served as the Event Partner, Whitewater and ASI as the Hospitality Sponsors, and the event was hosted under the patronage of the Dubai Association Centre – Dubai Chamber.

The launch event concluded on a communal note with an in-person networking session that received excellent feedback from all attendees. 

With the UAE leading the way in terms of vaccinations and post-pandemic recovery, the networking attendees enthusiastically welcomed an in-person event. It saw 100 industry professionals attend from across the MENA region.

The MLR launch event was significant in several ways; bringing the industry together after a tumultuous couple of years and underlining the industry’s bounceback. MENALAC has been asked to organise more events like this in the future. Overall, the highly-anticipated launch event was a roaring success.

Prakash Vivekanand adds, “MENALAC has registered some terrific growth, especially over the last 12 months. The Middle East market is an interesting one – the concentration is primarily on families and Family Entertainment Centres (FEC). While MENALAC has great value it can bring to large operators, it is equally valuable for smaller players. Our Council acts as a platform that educates, engages, and inspires industry operators of all sizes”.

About MENALAC:

Established in 2014, the Middle East and North Africa Leisure and Attractions Council (MENALAC) is a not-for-profit platform representing the Leisure, Entertainment and Attractions industry in the Middle East and North Africa. 

With over 470 operations and 200 brands from 22 countries in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region including Pakistan and Afghanistan, MENALAC offers great benefits to the industry as a platform for stakeholders to interact and stay informed. It has been set up under the aegis of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and the Dubai Association Centre in 2016 when leading companies within the region’s entertainment industry, including Theme Parks, Visitor Attractions, Water Parks and Family Entertainment Centres companies joined forces to form a council to support the growth and development of the industry.

The Council was established as a platform to promote safe operations, regional development, professional growth and commercial success of the amusement industry and to be an indispensable resource for the Council’s members and an international authority for the attraction industry.