With the aim of luring wealthy Muslim tourist and improving its image in the Arab world, the Chinese government has splashed out to construct an Islamic theme park.
The China Hui Culture Park, which opened in 2005, is now being expanded as part of a plan to transform this patch of Ningxia province into a tourist attraction.
The Hui are a predominately Muslim ethnic group who live mainly in China’s northwestern provinces who are ethnically and linguistically similar to Han Chinese.
Located in Yinchuan, situated on a floodplain of the Yellow River, the park lies nearly 600 miles to the west of Beijing. Some have questioned the merit in developing a site intended for international tourists so far away from the booming coastal cities, but so far the local government appears undeterred.
Construction is underway on a giant 80,000-square-meter terminal at Yinchuan Hedong International Airport and road signs around the city are being replaced with ones featuring Arabic translations.
The problem is, according NBC News reporters on the ground, that the tourists are yet to materialize. The parking lot has been described as “virtually empty” and ticket prices have been reduced to 80 yuan ($12) during summer and 60 yuan ($9) during winter.
Many of the attractions, such as the Arabian-themed dance and laser show, are either yet to be built or have been closed.
Park officials have apparently declined to comment on ticket sales, but stress that they expect to see a million visitors each year once the expansion is complete.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
China’s richest man Wang Jianlin opens Wanda World theme park in bid to crush Disney
Michael Jackson’s bro wants to set up a Neverland-style theme park in Shanghai
Theme park celebrating heroes of the Chinese Communist Party opens in Wuhan