Abu Dhabi's much-awaited National Aquarium is set to open on Friday, it was announced at a press conference on Tuesday.
The new aquarium is based in Al Qana, a new waterfront destination in the capital, and is home to 46,000 creatures and 300 species spread across 10 zones. It will be the biggest aquarium in the Middle East when it opens and the wildlife that live there will be cared for by a team of 80 sea-life experts and specialists.
General manager Paul Hamilton said the National Aquarium "honours the heritage of the UAE".
"We definitely nailed it. It’s better than any other in the Middle East."
Ticket prices start at Dh105 per person and there are four tiers of ticketing including general admission (Dh105), beyond the glass (Dh130), bu tinah dhow (Dh150) and VIP ticket (200).
The family attraction, being developed by the Department of Municipalities and Transport in Abu Dhabi and Al Barakah International Investment, is also set to house the Middle East's largest collection of sharks and rays, as well as Super Snake, a 14-year-old female reticulated python.
The reticulated python is the longest snake breed in the world, regularly reaching more than 6.25 metres long, with the largest yet recorded to be 10 metres (about the size of a school bus). And at seven metres, Super Snake will be one of the largest on display in the world.
Sharks, rays and conservation
The new attraction will be home to the UAE's only scalloped hammerhead sharks and bull sharks, as well as sand tiger sharks, lemon sharks, zebra sharks, blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays, shovelnose rays (or guitarfish), cownose rays and freshwater rays, among others.
Guests will be able experience shark encounter, during which they will hand-feed sharks as large as two metres long. There will also be live feeding demonstrations with sharks and rays.
Rehabilitation and conservation will be a primary focus of The National Aquarium. In July 2020, the aquarium signed a five-year partnership with The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, “with the aim to help create the largest and most innovative rehabilitation schemes of its kind to protect and rehabilitate wildlife in the emirate of Abu Dhabi".
Al Qana: Abu Dhabi's new waterfront destination
The waterfront destination spans 2.4 kilometres and is set to be complete by the end of 2021.
The entertainment and dining hub is home to restaurants and cafes and children's recreation centres, as well as the aquarium, which will be its main attraction.
Located on the Khor Al Maqta waterway, Al Qana is spread across seven zones.
Visitors will have access to restaurants spanning the waterfront, offering a prime view of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
It also features scenic walkways, while entertainment options include cinemas, a children's area, an outdoor skatepark and landscaped community spaces.
Al Qana also has a yacht marina, an e-sports and gaming zone, a wellness hub and virtual-reality park.
Tickets start at Dh105. For more information, visit thenationalaquarium.ae