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The largest aquarium in the Middle East, The National Aquarium at Al Qana in Abu Dhabi, is now 70% complete and will open by early 2020. The ten-zone, giant aquarium measuring over 7000 sq. metres will welcome an estimated 1 million visitors per year. The aquarium will form one of the key anchor features at Al Qana, the much-anticipated 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.

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

Commenting on the progress of the project, General Manager of The National Aquarium Paul Hamilton, who is the man behind many of the world’s most prestigious aquaria including the famous 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.

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. 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.”

The National Aquarium is part of the overall vision of Al Qana, which aims to deliver a thriving social and connected community of locals, residents and international visitors to Abu Dhabi. Fouad Mashal is the CEO of developers, Al Barakah International Investment:

“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.

With Al Qana, we are keen to deliver a project that is not only 50% dedicated to entertainment but also highly-educational. The National Aquarium will be one of the most important components of Al Qana, as it will be celebrating our local heritage through a special dedicated pavilion which will include many species from the UAE and from different part of the world.”

Given its size and sheer variety of marine life on show, The National Aquarium will provide an unrivalled experience, with an average journey lasting around two hours. This is approximately double the length of experience found in other aquaria in the region.

Projected to open by early next year, the expert design team at Okyanus (amongst the world’s most experienced designers of aquarium), are bringing the world’s best practice to the centre of Abu Dhabi’s newest cultural attraction.

Stuart Gissing, General Manager of Al Qana said: “Al Qana will bring world and regional firsts in aquarium design and management. For visitors, the experience will be unmatched, from viewing aspects to interactivity, entertainment and the unique journey through the underwater world. The National Aquarium swims clear of any competition.”

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. Guests will be able to learn about more than 250 species, spanning from the tropical waters of the Pacific and freshwaters of the Amazon through to the frozen ice caps of the Arctic and the caves of the Mediterranean. At its core, The National Aquarium will educate about the UAE and Arabian Gulf, celebrating the marine marvels of its home nation.