UAE: Diving with sharks at Abu Dhabi's National Aquarium, largest in the region

Since opening in November, the aquarium has welcomed over 100,000 visitors.


Michal Michelle Divon


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 5:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 26 Oct 2022, 3:16 PM

Abu Dhabi's National Aquarium is the largest in the Middle East and “the best project to date” according to General Manager and curator Paul Hamilton.

A marine biologist by training, New Zealand-born Hamilton has built 13 aquariums around the world, including in New Zealand, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

Since opening in November, the aquarium has welcomed over 100,000 visitors and offers the rare experience of diving with sharks, discovering corals, and learning about marine wildlife conservation.

After spending the day touring the Aquarium, Khaleej Times’ newly launched weekly show ‘Dubai This Week’ decided to return a second time for the full underwater adventure.

The aquarium offers a truly unique and intimate experience of marine life and is of great significance to the UAE, says Hamilton.

The aquarium’s ten zones take guests on a journey through different geographical locations around the world. These include the UAE's Natural Treasures zone, which features a deep-dive into the magical world of Arabian pearl fishing; the Red Sea Wreck, an experience of underwater exploration where you can come face-to-fin with hundreds of fish and coral typically found in the Arabian Red Sea; the Atlantic Cave, where you can discover creatures that typically hide in the tiniest nooks and crannies such as lobsters and sea sponges; the Frozen Ocean where Arctic sea birds and fish live in icy waters; and the Flooded Forest where tropical birds roam free and which is now home to ‘Super Snake’, the largest living snake on display in the world.

Covering more than 800 square meters in the newly build Al Qana waterfront, Abu Dhabi's National Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the Middle East and home to 46,000 animals and marine species. The aquarium houses more than 200 sharks and rays, representing 25 different species, and all the animals are cared for by a team of 80 marine biologists and sea-life experts

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