Look: Dolphins, dhows, fish, turtles; here’s a sneak peek into SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

Built on 183,000sqm of land and spanning five indoor levels, the UAE’s first dedicated marine life theme park definitely lives up to the hype


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Rahul G
Photos: Rahul G

Published: Mon 15 May 2023, 7:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 15 May 2023, 11:24 PM

Ahead of the much-awaited opening of SeaWorld Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, Khaleej Times was offered a sneak peek into a few realms of the UAE’s first dedicated marine life theme park.

The park is most certainly living up to its hype – to begin with, while you are on the road making your way to the parking spot, the sheer size of the destination standing on 183,000sqm of land, spanning five indoor levels, builds up an immense amount of excitement, and raises expectations sky-high.

Venture through the sliding doors of the main entrance, and two escalators will take you to the first of the eight realms, where your aquatic journey begins with Abu Dhabi Ocean.

Learn about rich maritime history

The immersive area captures the true essence of Abu Dhabi and the UAE. For visitors, this could be your crash course into the emirate’s rich maritime history. There’s dhows, mangroves, a souk, indigenous wildlife, a story narration on two of the many foreign sailors who stopped by Abu Dhabi, theatres and live shows.

Abu Dhabi Ocean lets visitors engage with marine invertebrates and rays in touch pools, and learn about the local marine life, as well as how ocean navigation was before the compass. You can expect to find dugongs, hawksbill sea turtles, sea snakes, starfish, sea cucumbers, and several varieties of fish in the tank as well.

One Ocean connects all realms

Next up you step into One Ocean, which is the central hub of the park that gives you access to all the other realms. The zone will feature One Epic Ocean – the park’s signature multi-media spectacular on the massive screen, which will showcase an Emirati’s journey through the sea and different ocean environments.

The zone is still getting ready for the grand opening. It also houses an on-site Animal Care Centre, where visitors can have a chat with vets and specialists.

Dolphins, flamingos, natural habitat

The Tropical Ocean is the biggest realm in terms of size, and the one with natural sunlight. The first thing that you hear from a distance is the honking and grunting of flamingos. The zone is complete with a blue lagoon, a lush rainforest with birds, and various animals such as dolphins, flamingos, and tropical fish living in state-of-the-art dynamic habitats.

Here, you step under and through an array of tunnels where you can catch approximately 24 friendly dolphins enjoying the safe environments. There is also a restaurant on the same level from where you can enjoy the same experience. An entertaining dolphin show is also on offer.

This realm will also be home to the record-breaking Manta Coaster – a thrilling roller coaster with the region’s most airtime moments, in addition to the world’s first zero gravity flip-out and the world’s first twisting double-down dive.

What more to expect from May 23

The other realms which Khaleej Times didn’t have access to during this exclusive sneak peek are:

  • Endless Ocean, featuring the world’s largest multi-species marine life aquarium containing 25 million litres of water and more than 68,000 marine animals.
  • Micro Ocean, which is dedicated for children to learn about marine life through exhibits, rides, entertainment and play structures.
  • The Arctic and Antarctica realms of the Polar Ocean, showcasing the habitats of walruses, penguins, and other amazing polar species. The Arctic realm is home to Hypersphere 360° – a fully immersive 360-degree multimedia sphere offering visitors an opportunity to delve into the ocean’s depths.
  • The Rocky Point realm will take visitors into a beautiful hidden cove in the US’s Pacific Northwest, where one can find seals and sea lions.

18 restaurants, 13 retail shops

Across the 8 realms, there are 18 different dining options with a wide selection of cuisines, from quick snacks on-the-go to fine dining experiences with stunning views into various animal habitats, both above and below the water.

There are around 13 distinct retail destinations to shop from for those looking to take home mementos. On offer are Sunken Treasures for keepsakes, the Armillary Collection for ocean-inspired treasures, and the Souk Al Seef for a diverse selection of souvenirs, apparel and plush animals.

The park opens to the general public on May 23. Tickets can be bought on www.seaworldabudhabi.com, and the Yas Annual Pass can be bought through www.yasisland.com/en/yas-annual-pass.

Key highlights

  • More than 100 animal experiences
  • Scores of presentations
  • Dolphin show
  • Up-close animal encounters
  • 15 interactive experiences and rides
  • Roaming entertainment
  • Parkwide game – SEA Guardian Games


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