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 News | Jobs | Sign up for our free e-zine 19 November 2019 
12 Jul 2019
Abu Dhabi aquarium on track for 2020 opening
By Andy Knaggs
Abu Dhabi aquarium on track for 2020 opening
The Al Qana complex in Abu Dhabi has been designed by local firm MZ Architects
Photo: Al Qana
What is set to be the Middle East's biggest aquarium is due to open in 2020, with construction of the attraction in Abu Dhabi reportedly about 70 per cent complete.

The National Aquarium will be a cornerstone of the upcoming dining and entertainment destination Al Qana, which is being created by Al Barakah International Investment (BII) and Abu Dhabi Municipality. Developers believe the destination will welcome one million visitors a year when it opens.

Covering a space of 7,000sq m (22,965sq ft), the aquarium will be home to 33,000 marine creatures, and will employ a team of 80 sea-life experts and specialists Organisers say that the animals will be responsibly, and ethically, sourced from around the world and that the destination will highlight the importance of conservation throughout its themed zones.

Paul Hamilton, general manager of the National Aquarium, commented: "This will bring the excitement and wonder of the oceans to the doorsteps of Abu Dhabi’s community and to visitors from all around the world. "This is the 12th public aquarium that I’ve worked on and probably the most exciting, in terms of the scale, uniqueness and attention to detail."

There will be an entire department dedicated to education at the Al Qana aquarium, capable of welcoming up to 50,000 school children a year. As well as focusing on local marine life of the United Aarab Emirates (UAE) and Arabian Gulf, the aquarium will also feature species from as far away as the tropical Pacific Ocean.

"People across the UAE are becoming more conscious of how they can look after the environment around them, to ensure that the habitats and ecosystems of animals are safeguarded for generations to come," said Hamilton.

"People of all ages will be able to understand more about the marine world at The National Aquarium, fostering a deeper appreciation of the creatures, corals and plants that make the underwater realm so fascinating and worth protecting.”

As regards the overall Al Qana complex, it will include a range of restaurants spanning the waterfront, offering a prime view of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Scenic walkways, a wellness hub, a virtual reality park, a yacht marina, and entertainment such as cinemas, a kids' zone, an outdoor skate park and landscaped community spaces, complete a location that developers say has been designed to promote social interaction and a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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