First Theme Park Marked by Delays

The first phase (Shahr-e-Ghesseh) was set to be completed by the end of 2013.The first phase (Shahr-e-Ghesseh) was set to be completed by the end of 2013.

Iran’s first theme park in Tehran is beset with delays.

‘Hezaro Yek Shahr’ (literally 1,001 cities), envisaged as the largest and the most modern tourist destination in the country, is planned on the vision “to create a world-class experience.”

It features a technologically-advanced theme park (‘Shahr-e-Ghesseh’), a 38,000 sq meters shopping mall on 35 hectares called ‘Shahrzad’, office towers, three hotels, an Islamic studies center, and an indoor water park, the Persian language newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

In 2010, the Tehran Municipality (TM) held an auction to turn a 139-hectare undeveloped land in District 22 into a world-class tourist destination, and the contract was bagged by the Ezam Construction and Investment Company.

The company, one of the investors in the project, also proposed the design of the touristic site.

Located at the western end of Hemmat Highway after Chitgar Lake, its key feature is the catchment area of Tehran and surrounding cities. Citing statistics, Ahmad Donyamali, head of Tehran City Council’s Civil and Transport Commission, who is also the project manager, said 12 million people live within an hour’s drive from the location.

“Joint partnership between the public and the private sector is also unprecedented in this project,” he added.

Gholam-Hossein Khosrowabadi, deputy head of the TM’s Investment & Public Participation Organization, explaining the delays, said the land still belongs to the Iranian Army, or ‘Artesh’ but is set to be transferred to the TM in the near future.

“However, as the date of the land transfer is still uncertain, it has thrown a spanner in the progress of the project,” he maintained, noting that the first phase (Shahr-e-Ghesseh) was set to be completed by the end of 2013.

Mahdi Chamran, head of Tehran City Council, also said the allocation of funds for implementation of such a huge project is a time-consuming process, and “only the land owner can obtain construction loans, which is not possible with the current status of the land.”

 Other Investors

Mostazafan Foundation (MF) and Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO) are two other investors in the project. MF is a charitable foundation and the second-largest economic conglomerate in Iran and is involved in industrial, trade and construction activities.

The theme park (phase I of the project) is under construction on 38 hectares with 45 game rides and 28 attractions developed into seven zones: Creation Courtyard, History Plaza, Silk Road, Adventure World, Land of Myths, Future Zone and City of Toys.

It is estimated that with the completion of phase I, millions of people will visit the theme park annually, and it will rank in the top 10 amusement/theme parks worldwide in terms of number of visitors, claims the website  

The park is designed with the help of a Canadian firm, Forrec Ltd., which has designed Universal Studios’ theme parks around the world.

In various locations throughout the park’s ‘diars’, the Persian word for zones, there will be story-telling centers, pavilions and spaces for performances, both staged and impromptu, in both natural and architectural settings. Many of the attractions will evoke contemporary and traditional stories taken from Iranian history, literature and folklore.

Using gardens, stories and traditional handicrafts, ‘Shahr-e-Ghesseh’ will offer family entertainment and amusement that will encourage a greater familiarity and appreciation of Iran’s past, present and future. The activities, motifs and recurring themes within the park will be inspired by the Persian story-telling tradition.

There is no word yet on when this ambitious project will be completed, and till such time for the people of Tehran and the surrounding areas, it’s a wait and watch situation.