Things to Do

The largest aquarium in the Middle East opens on Friday

Home to 46,000 creatures, The National Aquarium will open to the public on Friday, 12 November at 10am.

Abu Dhabi’s lifestyle destination, Al Qana, is on track to become Abu Dhabi’s ultimate social dining, entertainment and wellness space. The mega-project stretches across 2.4km of waterfront and is home to a multi-level virtual reality zone, the country’s biggest cinema, and The National Aquarium.

The aquarium houses over 200 sharks and rays and encompasses over 60 exhibits across ten unique zones. Taking visitors on a tour of the world’s oceans, it takes approximately two hours to navigate Abu Dhabi’s latest must-visit attraction.

The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi

Beginning in the ‘UAE Natural Treasures’ zone, guests enter onto a walkway above a lagoon filled with rehabilitated sea turtles. Just one of many exhibits to showcase the conservation efforts of The National Aquarium. With in-house curriculum and education being a top priority, the aquarium can welcome up to 50,000 students a year. 

The second exhibit is ‘Red Sea Wreck’, which houses the largest live coral reef exhibit in the Middle East, where colourful corals and giant grouper vie for visitors attention.

Zone 3 is the ‘Atlantic Cave’, where you’ll travel to the depths of the ocean in a stalactite filled subterranean environment. Here you can marvel at the prehistoric Horshoe Crab, estimated to have been around for more than 300 million years (making them even older than dinosaurs)!

The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi

Next up is The Sub’, a zone that takes on the appearance of a deep-sea submarine complete with radar sounds. It’s a place where lobsters cling to the metal hull when viewed through the windows. Meanwhile, Zone 5 showcases the ‘Ring Of Fire’ exhibit, where visitors will learn about the formation of islands through interactive video-mapping technology.

The sixth area, called ‘Ocean Magic’, explores animals with exciting abilities. From the ornately camouflaged Sea Dragon to bioluminescent creatures and a tank full of pulsating jellyfish.

‘The Frozen Ocean’ is the seventh zone that transitions the attractions theme, soundtrack, and temperature. Here you’ll find Spider Crabs and what is believed to be the only display of puffins in the Middle East. The puffin exhibit also forms part of The National Aquarium’s Animal Encounters programme, where visitors can get a closer look at the playful Arctic birds for an additional AED 180. 

The National Aquarium Abu Dhabi

Next, you’ll enter ‘The Flooded Forest’, where Poison Dart Frogs, a Bird-Eating Spider and an Electric Eel all reside. This tropical environment is also home to South American Capybaras, Pirhanas, a roaming Asian water monitor and ‘Super Snake‘ – believed to be one of the largest reticulated pythons in the world!

Bu Tinah Island is The National Aquarium’s final zone, where visitors can walk through the longest glass walkthrough tunnel in the Middle East, home to Zebra Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks.

Al Qana

Opening to the public this Friday at 10am, tickets for The National Aquarium are priced at AED 105 (general admission), AED 130 (including aquarium journey, behind the scenes tour and glass bridge walk). AED 150 (including aquarium journey, glass-bottom boat tour and fish feeding) and AED 200 (aquarium journey, behind the scenes tour, glass bridge walk, glass-bottom boat tour and fish feeding).

GO: Visit https://thenationalaquarium.ae for more information.

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David Tapley - Editor
Dubai-based editor for one of the region’s most fiercely local lifestyle publications across Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai and Qatar. Specialised in food, hospitality, arts, culture, and travel-related content.

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