Meraas Holdings to Build First Legoland Theme Park in the Middle East
The Middle East is set to enjoy its first ever Legoland theme park with Meraas Holdings to head up the construction at the Dubai Parks and Resorts project.
The world’s seventh Legoland will join a Bollywood-themed park to celebrate the Indian film industry, and “Motiongate Dubai”, a Hollywood-themed park, as part of the scheme backed by Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
It will likely become an important attraction in the bid for the UAE to attract 20 million tourists by 2020 when it is set to host the World Expo. Half this number visited in 2012.
Legoland, aimed at children aged two to 12 years, had originally been earmarked to become part of the Dubailand development, shelved in 2008 amid financial crisis and rocketing property prices.
The Dubai Parks and Resorts project will be located in the city’s Jebel Ali area, with the first phase set to be complete by 2016. There will also be shopping areas, restaurants and a family-friendly hotel, Lapita. It will also be close to the future five-runway airport Al Maktoum International.
Other highly ambitious projects are also in the pipeline, including a $1.6 billion island which will house the world’s largest Ferris wheel along with a $7.3 million devoted to the Quran.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.