Marine world uncovered at Dubai Mall

An artist’s impression of The Burj Dubai promenade at Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destinations, is preparing for its opening on October 30, 2008.

Situated next to the Burj Dubai, the newest mall in the emirate sprawls over a total area of 12.1 million sq ft, with an internal floor area of 5.9 million sq ft. This adds 3.77 million sq ft of net leasable space to the city’s booming retail sector.

Opening attractions are an aquarium and discovery centre, an ice rink, the world’s largest indoor gold souk and The Grove, the region’s first indoor-outdoor streetscape with a retractable roof.

The Dubai Mall is the flagship development for Emaar Malls Group and is a centrepiece in Emaar’s Downtown Burj Dubai mixed-use community.

The Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre features the world’s largest viewing panel and a 270 degree acrylic glass walkthrough tunnel, and is also a significant contribution to the Dubai community, with the educational discovery centre offering tailored programmes for schools.

The main tank measuring 50 m long x 17m wide x 11m high holds over 33,000 marine animals, representing over 85 different species. There will be more than 400 sharks including 45 sand tiger sharks, 45 grey reef sharks and up to 30 spotted eagle rays.

Adding to the overall ambience is a special ‘lunar-cyclic’ lighting system that will create a theatrical effect depending on the time of day, or cater to a specific event.

Yousif Al Ali, general manager, The Dubai Mall said, “Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre is our gift to Dubai, a tribute that also celebrates the integral association of the region with the wonders of the sea. Apart from showcasing one of the most diverse collections of marine life worldwide, Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre greatly enhances the overall mall experience for visitors and contributes to the unique characteristics of the mall created to entertain the whole family. Designed to world-class standards, Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre will allow visitors to gain a first hand insight into the exotic wonders of marine life.”

The aquarium was developed by Oceanis Australia Group, the world’s largest aquarium owner and operator, in line with an accepted code of ethics and animal welfare policy, prescribed by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). WAZA represents over 1,300 reputable zoos and aquariums around the world and has evolved a set of well documented standards and procedures to be followed in their operations.

All animal licences and permits conform to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES). CITES is an international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. 

Designed to the highest international specifications regarding indoor aquatic environments, the aquarium holds 10 million litres of saltwater donated and supplied through an exclusive partnership with the state owned Dubai Aluminium Company (DUBAL) and is replenished regularly. Onsite water treatment and storage facilities also ensure that the mineral and saline content of the aquarium is regulated with enough storage to supply the tank for a year.

Al Ali added, “Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre conforms to internationally accepted best practices in its design, development and management, and we are delighted to introduce a world class facility to the people of Dubai. The aquatic animals have been carefully selected not only for their adaptability to the local environment but also for their diversity and appeal. The mysteries and splendours of the marine world have always been a source of wonder, awe and inspiration for mankind.”

Oceanis Australia has developed different nurturing and breeding programmes for the animals with the support of an on-site team of marine biologists and veterinarians. The dedicated team of marine biologists ensures each species of aquatic animal is cared for according to their specific needs. 

An on-site aquaculture centre, laboratory, medical facility, food preparation area and freezers assure that the aquatic animals receive timely attention. New microchip technology will allow the staff to monitor the sharks, and measure their food intake using Bluetooth technology, which will transfer information to a main, centralised laboratory.

The Dubai Mall will feature more than 1,200 stores and over 160 food and beverage outlets. Other attractions are SEGA Republic, an indoor theme park; KidZania, a unique children’s ‘edu-tainment’ concept; and a 22 screen cinema complex.