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Ferrari May Expand Theme Parks Venture as Abu Dhabi Site Opens

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ferrari SpA may expand an amusement parks venture after opening the first collection of roller coasters, rides, shops, restaurants and interactive games branded with the Italian supercarmaker’s prancing horse badge.

The Modena, Italy-based carmaker and its partner, Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties PJSC, opened Ferrari World, the world’s largest covered theme park, on Nov. 4 in the Persian Gulf emirate. Abu Dhabi is seeking to develop itself as a tourist destination and Ferrari aims to spread its brand to more fans globally, said Michele Pignatti Morano, head of new business for Ferrari.

“We started with a white piece of paper developing this project,” Pignatti Morano said in an interview at an Oct. 27 media preview of the park. “It is a dream come true for us as Ferrari. This is our first one, we may have plans for more.”

The number of visitors to the amusement park on Yas Island in the Gulf sheikhdom during its first weekend wasn’t yet available, according to a spokeswoman. The park boasts what it says is the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa, in which visitors reach speeds of 150 miles (241 kilometers) an hour in a stretched car resembling Ferrari’s Formula One racers.

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is set to host its second Formula One race next weekend at a track adjacent to the amusement park. Ties between the emirate and the carmaker extend to sponsorship of the Italian F1 team by state-run investment company Mubadala Development Co., which until last month held a 5 percent stake in the carmaker.

Branding Exercise

Still, for Ferrari, the branding exercise isn’t about flaunting its image to boost sales in the oil-rich region, Pignatti Morano said. With production of models like the California cabriolet and the mid-engine 458 Italia limited, the amusement park aims to bring Ferrari closer to those who can’t afford its cars, he said.

“With this experience we can get them nearer and explain to them more of the brand,” Pignatti Morano told reporters at the media opening. “We’re not doing this to sell more cars.”

Aldar may continue to be a partner in that effort, he said. “If we’re looking at other countries, we will definitely look with them,” he said of partner Aldar.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anthony DiPaola in Dubai at adipaola@bloomberg.net; Zahraa Alkhalisi in Abu Dhabi at zalkhalisi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stephen Voss on sev@bloomberg.net; Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net.

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