The developers of Dubai World, a series of palm-shaped islands off the city’s coast, have announced they have purchased 20 per cent of Cirque du Soleil.

The developers of Dubai World, a series of palm-shaped islands off the city’s coast, have announced they have purchased 20 per cent of Cirque du Soleil.

Istithmar World and Nakheel PJSC, both government-owned, said they made the investment in a bid to turn Dubai into the world’s biggest tourist destination.

Canadian-based Cirque du Soleil – which attracts almost ten million visitors annually – agreed in May to perform on Palm Jumeirah for 15 years as of 2011.

David Jackson, chief executive officer of Istithmar World, said: “Cirque du Soleil marks Istithmar World’s first foray into the live entertainment space, which is a key to our media focus.”

The city aims to increase visitor numbers to ten million per year by 2010, having seen seven million tourists in 2007.

According to Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing earlier this week, more people are now heading on flights to Dubai for short breaks as an alternative to destinations like New York.

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