Qatar is aiming to boost its tourist offering with a new animal-themed attraction which will include safari rides, a unique roof system which will be able to rain once an hour on command, a river ride, a cable car link from the mall and a seven-star treehouse hotel.
The plans for the new Doha Zoo were announced at the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World conference, which was held at the Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel on Monday.
The project will be built on a 71 hectare site in Al Waab and will be be split into zones featuring an array of animal attractions including gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos and elephants.
Conceived as a “zoo within a park”, it will also link with Aspire Park and Villagio mall via a cable car, a dedicated tram system and a custom-built “elephants’ walkway”.
The plans were unveiled by Gregory Clarkson, senior planner at public works authority Ashghal, whose prior experience includes Hong Kong Disneyworld. “It will be a world-class zoo and truly unique,” he said.
There are plans to include drive-through African and Asian Safari zones, walk-through African and Asian safari areas, a mountain experience and a tropical rainforest environment.
To cater to the Qatar heat, the zoo will have an innovative controlled biosphere roof system – the first of its kind in the world – where it will rain once an hour, and a river ride throughout the zoo network.
Accommodation facilities will include a treehouse hotel, which is described as “an exclusive seven-star resort nestled in mature trees, with boardwalks throughout the tree canopy”. A five-star rainforest hotel and a four-star Montane family resort are also being planned.
Ashghal is planning to have the zoo up and running by 2020 and estimate it will attract around 1.3m visitors to the village with around 950,000 visitors to the zoo.
“We want to create a world-leading model for integrated nature conservation and visitor experience. It will be a unique and memorable attraction,” Clarkson said.
The conference also heard plans by Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) to develop plans to develop cultural heritage, which will offer visitors the opportunity to “live like a Qatari” in days gone by.
On Monday it was also revealed up to $45bn will be allocated to develop Qatar’s tourism industry by 2030 as part of the National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, according to Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) chairman Issa Al Mohannadi.
“Tourism is an untapped resource. Turning Qatar towards a tourism economy is the first step after oil and gas,” Al Mohannadi said in his keynote speech.
He said the strategy also aimed to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP from less than one percent to more than three percent by 2030. Employment in the sector is also hoped to increase from 25,000 in 2012 to 127,000 by 2030.