Another milestone achieved: Homegrown Malaysian attraction brand goes global

SIM Leisure took an important step forward towards international expansion of its ESCAPE attraction brand through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with partners in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia today.


The partners will represent the ESCAPE brand on the ground in each of their respective territories.


They will source and secure relevant and appropriate funding partners across mall operators and land owners to develop the ESCAPE brand of adventure parks.


The signing ceremony, which was held at the Malaysia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, was witnessed by Penang Governor Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, Penang Entrepreneurial Development, Trade and Industry Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, and Penang Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.


Senior representatives from Sim Leisure’s partners were also present at the event.


They include Oasis Business & Investment (Oman) chief executive officer Hood Albalushi; and managing partners of Oasis Business & Investment (Qatar Branch) Ibrahim Hamed Hamood Al Amri and Khalfan Al Amri.


Alam Albahjah For Entertainment (Saudi Arabia) director Naif Mohammad Al Shammary appeared virtually.



The MoU signing ceremony was also held in conjunction with Penang Week, with the theme ‘Entrepreneurship and Energy’.


Sim Leisure founder and chief executive officer Sim Choo Kheng said he was very excited at the prospects at what they could achieve together with their partners in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.


“This is truly a coming of age for ESCAPE as we launch the brand internationally.


“We had plans to take the ESCAPE brand internationally earlier.


“However, we were delayed for the last two years due to the pandemic.  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”, Sim, a veteran with over 30 years’ experience in the theme park industry, 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 Records for Longest Tube Water Slide in the world in ESCAPE Penang.


Ahmad Fuzi, in his keynote address, said Sim Leisure is a good example of how a Malaysian company could be successful on a world stage, establishing its Middle East headquarters in Dubai some 20 years ago; and having since delivered over 300 unique international theme parks and attraction design and building projects around the world.


Ahmad Fuzi delivers his keynote address.


“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.


“Looking at the success achieved by Dubai in developing its tourism industry, I believe it is timely that Penang adopts a new vision for tourism and think more globally in terms of how it can attract higher yielding international visitors through leveraging on its natural beauty, historical attractions, famous cuisine, cultural and religious diversity,” Ahmad Fuzi said.


He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected tourism worldwide.


“We are not out of the woods yet notwithstanding the success of our vaccination programmes. The reality is that it is here to stay and we will have to live with it as an endemic.


“We cannot go back to business as usual and this is particularly the case with the tourism industry.


As such it is imperative that we think of new and innovative ways to attract international tourists in a recovering world.


Ahmad Fuzi presents a memento to Sim (second from right) to commemorate Sim Leisure’s achievements and for bringing ESCAPE to the world stage. Looking on are Abdul Halim (left) and Yeoh (right).


In this regard I would like to urge all parties involved including the government and private sector to work together to rebuild the tourism sector by adapting to the changing times.


“I am confident that looking at the example of Sim Leisure and our ability to overcome shocks whilst continuing to be resilient, we will be able to bounce back better in the years ahead,” he said.



Story by Christopher Tan