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Homegrown Malaysian Attraction Brand Goes Global

Sim Leisure signs MOUs at Dubai Expo 2020 for the expansion of the ESCAPE brand into Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia

TYT Tun Dato’ Seri Utama Ahmad Fuzi bin Haji Abdul Razak, Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang (2nd from left) presenting Sim Choo Kheng, Founder and CEO of Sim Leisure Group (2nd from right) with a token of appreciation to commemorate Sim Leisure’s achievements and today’s announcement of bringing ESCAPE to the world stage. Looking on is YB Dato’ Haji Abdul Halim Hussain, Exco Trade, Industry & Entrepreneur Development (left) and YB Yeoh Soon Hin, Exco Tourism & Creative Economy (right)

Sim Leisure took an important step forward earlier this week towards international expansion of its ESCAPE attraction brand through the signing of MOUs with partners in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. These partners will represent the ESCAPE brand on the ground in each of their respective territories. These partners will source and secure relevant and appropriate funding partners across mall operators and land owners to develop the ESCAPE brand of adventure parks.

The MOU signing ceremony which was held at the Malaysian Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 was witnessed by TYT Tun Dato’ Seri Utama Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, Yang Di Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang; YB Dato’ Haji Abdul Halim Hussain, Penang Exco Trade, Industry & Entrepreneur Development and YB Yeoh Soon Hin, Penang Exco Tourism & Creative Economy.

Senior representatives from Sim Leisure’s partners were also present at the event. These include Mr. Hood Albalushi, CEO of Oasis Business & Investment (Oman); as well as Mr Ibrahim Hamed Hamood Al Amri and Mr Khalfan Al Amri, Managing Partners of Oasis Business & Investment (Qatar Branch). Meanwhile, Mr Naif Mohammad Al Shammary, Director of Alam Albahjah For Entertainment (Saudi Arabia) appeared virtually.

TYT Tun Dato’ Seri Utama Ahmad Fuzi bin Haji Abdul Razak (3rd from left), YB Dato’ Haji Abdul Halim Hussain (1st from left) and YB Yeoh Soon Hin (4th from left) witnessing the exchange of MoUs between Sim Leisure Group and Mr. Hood Albalushi, CEO of Oasis Business & Investment (Oman), Mr Ibrahim Hamed Hamood Al Amri, Managing Partner of Oasis Business & Investment (Qatar Branch) and Mr Khalfan Al Amri, Managing Partner of Oasis Business & Investment (Qatar Branch)

Sim Choo Kheng, the Founder and CEO of Sim Leisure, a veteran with over 30 years’ experience in the theme park industry said “This is truly a coming of age for ESCAPE as we launch the brand internationally. I am very excited at the prospects at what we can achieve together with our partners in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia”.

He added, “We had plans to take the ESCAPE brand internationally earlier. However, we were delayed for the last two years due to the pandemic. But now, as travel restrictions are eased, its finally time to venture into international markets. These territories will add to the ESCAPE park that is already under construction in Sri Lanka and an ESCAPE park that has recently been approved to start development in China”, he said.

The idea for the ESCAPE brand of theme parks was conceived in 1998 when Sim relived his childhood during a visit to the Vietnamese Thu Duc Village, just outside Saigon. Using a “low tech, high fun” approach, the brand’s concept in a nutshell advocates the re-discovery of childhood and re-connection with nature. It reintroduces the benefits of play and the enhancement of motor skills by introducing the nostalgic activities of yesteryear in a contemporary but natural environment.

Today, the ESCAPE brand is a proven Malaysian success story. In the past 10 years, ESCAPE theme parks have welcomed over 1.2 million visitors. The brand has also marked notable achievements including the Guinness World Record for Longest Tube Water Slide in the world in ESCAPE Penang.

Today’s MOU Signing Ceremony was also held in conjunction with Penang Week with the theme of Entrepreneurship and Energy. Tun Ahmad Fuzi commended Mr Sim by saying “Sim Leisure is a good example of how a Malaysian company can be successful on the world stage, establishing their Middle East HQ in Dubai some 20 years ago and having since delivered over 300 unique international theme park and attraction design and build projects around the world.”

Today’s signing marks an important milestone for ESCAPE as the only Asian attraction brand to be exported internationally. Through establishing the ESCAPE brand around the world in the same way that international theme park brands like Disney and Universal have, it will undoubtedly help Malaysia and Penang to attract more overseas visitors. In years to come, we can expect tourists from all over the world to make the pilgrimage to Penang to visit the home of ESCAPE and see where it all started.
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