ABU DHABI // Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi hopes to make a big splash when it finally opens its doors next month.
The eagerly awaited attraction will welcome visitors from January 24, it was announced today.
The Dh900 million waterpark is being touted as the best of its kind in the world by the team behind it, who started drafting designs nearly five years ago.
"I expect it to set a new standard for waterparks worldwide. It will definitely be something people around the world are going to hear about and hopefully come to see," said the general manager, Mike Oswald.
There was an air of anticipation at the 15-hectare site on Yas Island today while the finishing touches were made to the 43 rides, slides and attractions.
Virtually all of the scaffolding had been removed from the site and workers were cleaning and finishing the landscaping.
"This is the world's best waterpark," Mr Oswald said. "It has been almost five years in the making, so to have it opening in a very short time, everybody – the staff, the developer, everybody – is extremely excited about it.
Mr Oswald said renowned architect Tom Wright, who designed the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, had been involved in the park.
The site, which can accommodate about 6,000 people, is expected to attract between 700,000 and 800,000 visitors a year. It is more than 98 per cent complete, with tests being carried out.
Mr Oswald believes the park will draw people to Abu Dhabi.
"It brings a huge tourist destination to the emirate, in conjunction with Ferrari World and the other attractions on Yas Island," he said.
"Now Abu Dhabi has a true tourism destination, which is going to be one of the best in the world anywhere you'll find, especially when we add additional attractions on the island, such as Yas Mall.
"There's another theme park planned for Yas Island in a few years, so I expect great things for the island."
Five of the rides are described as one-of-a-kind attractions.
Top of the list and a favourite of Mr Oswald's, is the Dawwama, the world's first and largest hydromagnetic-powered, six-person tornado waterslide, at 238 metres long.
Visitors can ride three-metre-high waves on Bubble's Barrel, which has the world's largest surfable sheet wave for flowboards and bodyboards.
The Bandit Bomber, a 550-metre coaster, is the first with on-board water and laser effects. Riders can shoot jets of water at targets, drop water bombs and trigger special effects, while people below can spray them with water as they go by.
Mr Oswald said the plan had been to have the park operational in the final quarter of this year but that the opening date of January 24 was "pretty close".
He said the team wanted to ensure the experience for visitors was exactly the way they wanted before launching.
The park draws on the UAE's heritage and has a theme called "The Lost Pearl".
Visitors follow the story of a young Emirati girl on a quest to find a legendary pearl as they make their way around the attractions, which include a souq and pearl-diving exhibit. There are also areas for children.
A grand opening, which members of the Royal family are expected to attend, will be held ahead of the public opening. Before that, 50 competition winners will test out the rides on Friday.
The park, built by Aldar Properties, will be open every day of the year, in winter from 10am to 6pm and summer from 10am to 8pm.
Tickets will cost Dh225 for adults, Dh185 for children below 1.1 metres in height. Children 3 and younger go free.
Visit www.yaswaterworld.com for more information.