Middle East's largest aquarium set to open in Abu Dhabi in 2020

Construction of the National Aquarium at Al Qana is 70% complete, set to welcome 1 million visitors per year
Middle East's largest aquarium set to open in Abu Dhabi in 2020
By Sam Bridge
Wed 10 Jul 2019 01:55 PM

The largest aquarium in the Middle East, The National Aquarium at Al Qana in Abu Dhabi, is now 70 percent complete and will open by early 2020, it was announced on Wednesday.

The 10-zone aquarium measuring over 7,000 sq m is expected to welcome an estimated 1 million visitors per year and will form one of the key anchor features at Al Qana, the waterfront destination in the heart of Abu Dhabi.

It is being developed by Al Barakah International Investment and is set to fully open by the final quarter of 2020, a statement said.

Home to more than 33,000 marine creatures, responsibly and ethically sourced from around the world, The National Aquarium will be led by a team of 80 marine experts and specialists. Through themed zones of learning, the journey will highlight the conservation required to protect the planet, it added.

Paul Hamilton, general manager of The National Aquarium, who is also the man behind Dubai Aquarium, said: “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. 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.

"Through accredited educational programs and accessible information, 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.”

Fouad Mashal, the CEO of Al Barakah International Investment, added: “Al Qana is more than just a dining and entertainment waterfront destination. When we conceptualized the project, our objective was to make a social impact and improve the standard and quality of living in Abu Dhabi.

"We want to bring happiness to our community and encourage social interactions between residents and visitors, and support Abu Dhabi’s vision of becoming one of the most liveable cities in the world by 2021."

The National Aquarium will have a whole department dedicated to education and capacity to welcome 50,000 school children a year to visit and learn at the site.

Al Qana, which spans over 2.4km and will also offer waterside eateries, cinema, marina and a wellness hub and outdoor skatepark, is located on the historic natural Khor Al Maqta, the waterway bordering the mainland close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and will dedicate over 50 percent of the leasable area to entertainment.

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