Video: Inside UAE’s National Aquarium; meet super snake, cuddle with friendly lizard

It will be home to nearly 46,000 creatures and 200 sharks and rays.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 2:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Nov 2021, 6:29 PM

Experience an ‘encounter’ with sharks, catch a close view of a ‘super’ snake as well as turtles, sea horses and the best of marine life as the largest aquarium in the region opens its doors to the public this Friday in Abu Dhabi.

The National Aquarium, located at the vibrant lifestyle hub of Al Qana, is home to nearly 46,000 creatures and 200 individual sharks and rays, representing 25 different species.

“This took three years in the making. I have done 13 public aquariums. This is so much better than anything in the world,” Paul Hamilton, general manager, at the National Aquarium, said while describing how the submarine world took shape from what was just sand rubbles.

This will be the only aquarium in the country to home scalloped hammerhead sharks and bull sharks.

And when talking about the astonishing biodiversity of species, there’s weedy scorpion fish, white ribbon eel, a giant grouper weighing 300kg, great barracudas, sea dragons, green tree frog, giant spider crabs, Atlantic puffins, black guillemots, common murre, wolf eels and lumpsuckers, you name it and it’s here in the UAE Capital. What’s more the air is filled with the intimidating Hakka music.

And there is the ‘super’ snake, a python, believed to be the largest living snake on display in the world. Also, get up close and, actually, cuddle a friendly ‘professor’ monitor lizard.

Visitors can immerse themselves in an amazing journey with a behind the scenes tour, a daring glass bridge walk, an interesting glass bottom boat tour and fish feeding -- just some of the thrilling activities packaged in one place.

In the interactive ‘shark encounter’ experience, visitors can stand in the water and feed sharks as large as 2 metres long.

The National Aquarium has also signed a five-year partnership with the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) to help create the largest and most innovative rehabilitation schemes of its kind to protect and rehabilitate wildlife in the emirate. “We have rehabilitated 2,000 sea turtles,” Hamilton said.

Visitors can also catch a glimpse of how the rehab is being done. Education is very much the core at the aquarium with an entire department dedicated to engaging and enhancing the visitor’s experience, and the capacity to welcome up to 50,000 students a year.

A general admission ticket costs Dh105.

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