Plans to build the largest aquarium in the UAE as part of a Dh850 million housing and tourism complex have been unveiled by Abu Dhabi property company Al Barakah International Investments and Abu Dhabi Municipality.
At a ceremony Wednesday, Al Barakah, which owns the Lifecare hospital in the Musaffah area of the capital and the refrigeration and cooling District Cole plant, said that it had struck a deal with Abu Dhabi Municipality to build and operate the 150,000 square metre housing and marina complex for 30 years.
The project, which is to be built under a “musathaha” agreement or Build Operate Transfer agreement, will include a 5,000 metre aquarium, a 98 berth marina suitable for mini yachts, cafes and restaurants, and three or four storeys of furnished apartments which will be available for rent.
Al Barakah said that the aquarium would “absolutely” be bigger than the one which currently draws crowds in The Dubai Mall.
Measuring 51 metres by 20 metres by 11 metres the Dubai Mall aquarium is currently is one of the largest fish tanks in the world and includes one of the largest viewing panels in the world. It houses more than 33,000 living animals and represents more than 85 different species.
The new Abu Dhabi project will be located on 2.4 kilometres of waterside land in the Maqta area of the city opposite the Shangri La hotel and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2018.
The company said it would fund the development with 30 per cent equity from its own resources and 70 per cent debt funding with a local bank.
“The tourist market in Abu Dhabi is expanding like crazy, especially with what Etihad Airways are doing so Abu Dhabi wants to be on the touristic kind of map,” said Moataz Mashal, managing director of Al Barakah. “This is one of the main projects which will start putting Abu Dhabi on that map.”
He added that the company would reveal more details about the new aquarium at Cityscape Abu Dhabi next month.
“We want to be the biggest in Abu Dhabi because there is a competitor trying to exceed us,” Mr Mashal said. “We are aiming to be the biggest in the UAE.”