Regional Office Spotlight: Dubai, UAE

Over the past three years, the WhiteWater Dubai office has grown its headcount by 114%, adding team members across logistics, project management, and marketing. With tradeshow season just around the corner, we wanted to introduce you to the new faces you might meet who will be supporting you as we work to bring projects from concept to completion.

By the Numbers:

  • Year Opened: 2006
  • Employees: 15
  • Departments: 9 (Design Services, Performance Services, Marketing, Business Development, Project Management, Logistics, Installation, Estimating, Endless Surf)
  • Languages: 7 (Arabic, Spanish, French, English, Hindi, Urdu, Turkish)

Aquaventure at Atlantis Resort Phase 1

Office Origin Story

The early 2000s marked an exciting period for WhiteWater, characterized by significant milestones such as the installation of Aquaventure Waterpark at Atlantis Dubai and the expansion of Wild Wadi Waterpark. As the demand for water parks surged in the United Arab Emirates, the team found themselves frequently traveling to attend meetings in the UAE. Graham Lockie and Glenn DeCoste recognized the necessity of establishing a local presence to better support the growing number of projects in development setting up a space for the team in 2006.

Following the establishment of the office, several significant projects swiftly followed suit with the announcement of Dubai Parks & Resorts in 2012, the opening of Yas Waterworld in 2013, and the expansion of Aquaventure in 2013. This string of successes, coupled with the region’s continued growth, prompted the expansion of the Dubai office with the team moving into Arenco Tower in 2014. During that same year, Mike Rigby relocated from Barcelona to Dubai to lead the Business Development department, bolstering the team’s capabilities. Around this time, WhiteWater officially divided Europe, the Middle East, and Africa into different territories, ensuring clients would have a dedicated team in their time zone and language.

Fast Forward to 2024: Recent Changes to the Team

After celebrating our regional office’s 15th anniversary in 2021, our team looked to scale up the headcount to keep up with the growing project demand in line with Saudi Vision 2030. In February of 2021, we welcomed Burcu Karaca as a Park Designer, bringing over six years of experience in water park design and armed with a Master of Landscape Architecture from Istanbul Technical University. Speaking English and Turkish, Burcu assists clients in developing operationally efficient sites that prioritize guest flow, ride mix, and target demographics, setting them up for success.

Recognizing the need for quicker pricing, in August 2021 Deniz Caglar joined the regional office, leading estimating for the EMEA region. With over two decades of experience in project cost management, Deniz significantly streamlined our operations by eliminating the need to wait for 12 hours for pricing from Vancouver, thereby facilitating quicker decision-making regarding project costs.

In response to the challenges posed by COVID-19, we were pleased to onboard Deleepan Thirunavukkarasu as our Supply Chain Coordinator in July 2022. With nine years of experience in procurement and logistics, Deleepan specializes in supply chain optimization. His expertise ensures clients receive the best possible rates for their deliveries through timely negotiations and proactive risk management.

One year later, we welcomed Matt Spurgeon as our Performance Services Manager. Collaborating with Lijo Jose (Performance Services, Sales), the two spearheaded a dedicated Performance Services department in the Middle East, supporting the region’s water parks as they age with us. With over 12 years of aquatic maintenance experience with Wild Wadi, Matt ensures prompt on-site issue resolution within a few hours. With the WhiteWater team, including Matt, nearby, water parks can confidently expect timely re-openings after annual shutdowns, boasting refreshed attractions that operate seamlessly, extending their lease of life and increasing return on investment.

Most recently, in July 2023, we welcomed back Jamie Charlesworth as Managing Director. With a 20-year career in leisure and entertainment, Jamie brings invaluable experience from renowned companies in the region. Having managed Wahoo! Waterpark, Jamie understands the nuances of successfully operating water parks in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and is committed to fostering enduring partnerships with regional parks.

Building an Aquatics Community in the Middle East

Relocating the office in 2022 to Media One, the WhiteWater team actively engages in developing community within the Middle East. Each year, the team participates in an annual Ramadan Fridge initiative, stocking the refrigerator with essential food items for those fasting or in need during Ramadan. In 2023, the Ramadan sharing fridge served 6,124 meals over the 29 days of fasting.

Also looking to foster knowledge sharing and community within the aquatics industry, in August 2021 WhiteWater launched the Water Parks MENA LinkedIn page. Now at nearly 5,000 followers, this platform serves as a valuable resource for water park operators, spotlighting community members and sharing industry news to drive progress.

Furthermore, our team members actively contribute to various associations to facilitate learning opportunities in the market. Cassidy Newman (Marketing) serves on the IAAPA EMEA Education Committee, while Mike Rigby (Business Development) is a Board Member of MENALAC and TEA, organizing networking events within the region. Similarly, Pradeep Sharma (Business Development) volunteers on the IAAPA Asia Safety Committee, advocating for safety standards in India and contributing to the development of industry regulations based on international standards.

Latest Developments in the Middle East

WhiteWater’s Middle East team has been actively involved in several exciting projects across various development types, aiming to drive the entertainment industry forward. Here’s a glimpse into some recent efforts:

  • Expanding Hospitality Market: With the Middle East’s hotel market ranking among the world’s strongest in 2023, numerous properties are reinvesting to enhance their appeal by adding aquatic amenities. Over the past three years, our team has overseen the opening of seven resort water parks across esteemed properties such as JA Resort, Waldorf Astoria, Westin, Le Meridien, and Cheval Blanc. We eagerly anticipate the launch of Grand Hyatt’s water park later this year, further cementing our commitment to delivering exceptional aquatic experiences in the region’s hospitality sector.
  • Supporting Vision 2030: As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which aims to enhance quality of life, the growing trend of surfing is being embraced. Saudi Entertainment Ventures (SEVEN) will soon introduce three Flow House venues across the Kingdom, offering visitors a unique surfing experience and serving as global entertainment hubs.

  • Constructing the World’s Tallest Water Slide Tower: The opening of Meryal Waterpark in Qatar marked a significant milestone, featuring 53 water slides themed to reflect Qatari culture and heritage. The highlight of the park is the Icon Tower, the world’s tallest water slide tower, boasting 12 different attractions and setting a world record at 85 meters high. Recognized with a 2023 MENALAC Award for Most Unique Concept, the tower offers an unparalleled experience with three kilometers of slidepath and innovative pedestrian elevators.

Looking Ahead

WhiteWater’s Middle East team remains dedicated to pioneering innovative concepts and driving the region’s remarkable expansion. With over 40 years of collective experience in water park operations, our team collaborates closely with clients to bring their visions to life, prioritizing both stunning aesthetics and operational efficiency.

“As the water park market in the Middle East continues to grow, WhiteWater’s full-service team is poised to offer comprehensive support at every stage,” said Managing Director, Jamie Charlesworth. “From inception to execution, we’re dedicated to delivering projects that not only showcase stunning one-of-a-kind design but also prioritize guest safety above all else. We look forward to working with our clients to lead the evolving landscape of the water park industry in the Middle East, infusing innovation, creativity, and excitement into every project we undertake.”

Learn more about the team in the Middle East by visiting

Cassidy Newman