• Studio's films and TV shows will be basis for `Fox World'
  • Up to five parks could be built worldwide as part of accord

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. is licensing its characters for a themed resort in Dubai in a deal that could lead to as many as five such parks around the world.

20th Century Fox World, Dubai, scheduled to open in 2018, will feature attractions based on films and TV shows such as “Ice Age,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Aliens” and “The Simpsons,” as well as a hotel, according to a statement Tuesday. It joins another Fox theme park under construction in Malaysia.

Al Ahli Holding Group, a builder responsible for the Dubai Outlet Mall, the first such project in the Middle East, is developing the resort. The projected cost wasn’t disclosed. The deal allows for as many as three more parks outside of Dubai.

“Dubai is the second Fox theme park destination and marks an important step forward in our global theme park strategy,” Jeffrey Godsick, president of Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, said in the statement.

Fox is taking a cue from Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., which are seeing strong profit growth in their theme-park divisions. Attendance at the world’s 25-largest parks rose 4.1 percent to more than 223 million guests last year, according to the Burbank, California-based Themed Entertainment Association.

The company has licensed its characters to parks before. Comcast’s Universal Studios in May expanded its attraction based on “The Simpsons” in Los Angeles to include settings from the Fox TV show such as Moe’s Tavern and the Springfield nuclear power plant.

The Middle East is drawing the attention of movie studios, as well as local park developers. Three water parks, in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, made the list of the 10 largest such parks in Europe, the Middle East and Africa last year, according to the industry association. The warm weather there allows water parks to operate year-round.

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