Mickey Mouse heads for Bahrain

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The Independent Online

A Saudi billionaire is said to be in talks with investors to bring Disneyland to the Middle East.

Prince Alwaweed bin Talal, the world's eighth richest man, is reported to be considering investing in a £4bn Disneyland theme park in Bahrain.

While the park would feature the likes of Mickey and Minnie, visitors streaming through the gates of Disney Bahrain would be welcomed by characters from Aladdin and Fantasia.

It would not be the prince's first foray into the world of Mickey Mouse. He already has a 10 per cent stake in Disneyland Paris's operator Euro Disney, and signed a deal late last year to distribute Walt Disney products across the Middle East and north Africa.

The Bahrain newspaper Al-Waqt says that the need for a "project for family entertainment" in the region is long overdue.

If the scheme gets the green light, the first visitors to the park will be welcomed in 2013. The park would cover 16 million square metres, with work expected to start in May.

Disney has 11 theme parks worldwide and looks set to expand its empire in Shanghai to tap into the wealth created by China's economic boom.