New attraction: Dubai to have its own rainforest
The Green Planet, a project by Dubai-based holding company Meraas, is a 900-square metre "bio-dome that recreates an enchanting world of a tropical forest with over 3,000 plants, animals, birds and insects.
Dubai is really more than just a desert. After building the world's largest indoor ski, world's tallest tower and man-made islands in the shape of a palm tree, the city is set to open on Thursday, September 1, the region's first indoor tropical rainforest.
Called The Green Planet, developed by Dubai-based holding company Meraas, the project is a 900-square metre "biodome that recreates an enchanting world of a tropical forest with over 3,000 plants, animals, birds and insects, in addition to the world's largest indoor man-made and life-sustaining tree."
"The Green Planet was created with an aim to transport family and friends into the very heart of a tropical forest and give them a striking glimpse of the inner workings of such an ecosystem," Jean-Marc Bled, Meraas general manager for Leisure & Entertainment, said on Monday, when journalists were given a preview of the educational facility located at City Walk in Jumeirah.
Bled told Khaleej Times: "The Green Planet is not exactly an ecological museum nor a zoo but a bio-dome, an integrated environment where some (tropical) animals can roam or birds can fly freely."
"Visitors will have a full immersive experience where they can feed and pet the animals, all under close supervision by the staff."
He added: "We started this project back in 2013 to realise the vision of our Group chairman to bring environmental awareness to the region. Aside from giving us the opportunity to experience how it is to be in the middle of a tropical rainforest, this facility was created to educate families, students and other visitors about our nature so they can understand our ecosystem better in order to preserve it."
The Green Planet is a five-level origami-styled glass building, allowing natural sunlight to come in. It will be open daily from 10:00am until 10:00pm and entrance fee is Dh90 for adults and Dh70 for children for an 'unlimited stay' for a day.
Upon entering the facility, visitors are greeted at the 'Flooded Forest', complete with a giant aquarium filled with marine species such as arapaima, arowana and stingrays.
Visitors are then guided to the top of the bio-dome where they get a panoramic view of the "largest indoor, man-made and life-sustaining tree in the world."
According to Mohammed Elarabi, staff at the Green Planet, the 25-metre tree resembles a kapok tree, native to Central America. "The one we have here is artificial but it is 'life-sustaining because on the huge branches of this giant tree live a diverse number of plants like bromeliad, different animal species and birds," Elarabi said.
"The Kapok tree serves as the central figure at The Green Planet, where the lives of different plants and animals are interwoven, creating an ecosystem," he added.
There is a hanging bridge connected to Kapok tree where visitors can watch flying live birds like purple glossy starling, crimson rumped toucanet, black-naped oriole, golden conure (the national bird of Brazil) and toco toucan.
Continuing the tour, visitors will then slowly descend through the bio-dome via a winding path and alongside its periphery, they can encounter exotic and tropical animals - from the majestic South American toucans, hyacinth macaws, geckos, crocodile lizards to pre-hensile tailed porcupines and a sloth.
They will also see, kept inside several terrariums (sealed glass containers), live insects like the 'goliath birdeater tarantula' (world's largest spider found in South America) and weaver ants from Southeast Asian forests.
Mists are sprayed and temperature and humidity levels are regulated to recreate the sensory experience of a tropical rainforest.
According to Bled, the facility is operated by a team of 70 highly-trained staff and experts from the zoOceanarium Group, a specialized company with over 20 years of experience in developing and operating aquarium and zoological facilities.
There is no minimum age required to enter The Green Planet but Bled said "a kid should be at least two years old to enjoy the experience."
With regards to safety, he assured the public that the place is "highly safe - there is no gap in the walking bridge and the ramp is injury-proof."
Bled added: "We don't have any dangerous animals roaming freely; no crocodiles or snakes, but it is best to experience birds fly over you and see the animals up close and personal."
> The Green Planet, an indoor tropical rainforest, is located at the City Walk, Jumeirah.
> It will be open daily from 10am until 10pm
> Entrance fee is Dh90 for adults and Dh70 for children.
What The Green Planet has
> A five-level origami-styled glass building allowing natural sunlight
> Flooded Forest with giant aquarium filled with arapaima, arowana, stingrays
> Bio-dome for a panoramic view of the largest indoor, man-made, life-sustaining tree
> Visitors can feed and pet animals
> 25-metre artificial kapok tree on which plants like bromeliad, animals and birds live
> Hanging bridge to watch birds fly around
> Exotic, tropical animals and insects
> Regulated temperature and humidity levels to recreate sensory experience of tropical rainforest
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