Aquarium at Dubai Mall to open in August

Dubai Aquarium is built in the centre of the Dubai Mall and is flanked by two acrylic tunnels that offer views of the diverse marine life. (SUPPLIED)

The Dubai Aquarium at the new Dubai Mall is set to open to the public on August 28, coinciding with the opening of the mall.

The aquarium will showcase one of the most diverse collections of marine life worldwide, according to mall officials. With one of the largest tanks in the world at 51 metres by 20 metres by 11 metres, the aquarium will feature the world's largest viewing panel, which will be 32.8 metres wide and 8.3 metres high.

The facility, built by Oceanis Australia Group, has a capacity to hold 10 million litres of water and will be completely illuminated. The aquarium is built in the centre of the mall and is flanked by two acrylic tunnels that offer views of the diverse marine life within it.

Special acrylic has also been used to build the world's largest indoor marine mammal pavilion at the mall. Though glass is traditionally used for aquaria, acrylic has proven to be stronger and lighter, with acrylic-soluble cement used to fuse the material together, allowing for the formation of unusual shapes.

"Glass is not used in the building of modern aquariums. An acrylic plastic is bonded together to create the windows in the mall's aquarium and the Discovery Centre. Acrylic is extremely strong and can be manipulated into a variety of shapes such as the unique curved acrylic tunnel," said Yousif Al Ali, general manager, The Dubai Mall. "The 270-degree acrylic walkthrough tunnel makes for incredible close-encounter experiences with some of the most fascinating underwater animals. The special 'lunar-cyclic' lighting system will change the ambience of the tank depending on the time of day."

The project was designed by CD+M Lighting Design Group, a US-based multi-disciplinary lighting and controls design firm. Meanwhile, following the completion of the aquarium's construction work, the first batch of 30 Sand Tiger sharks were delivered last week.

With almost all construction work at the mall complete, the stage is set for the official opening of the mall in August. Construction started in late 2004 and was carried out by Dutco Balfour Beatty-Al Ghandi & Consolidated Contractors International Company. The architectural design of the mall was done by DP Architects PTE Ltd. Singapore-based Meinhardt were the civil and structural engineers.

When it formally opens its doors, the 12.1-million-square-foot Dubai Mall will be the biggest in the world in terms of total size. It will include the region's first SEGA indoor theme park covering 76,000 sq ft, the world's largest indoor gold souk with 220 retailers, an Olympic-size ice rink, and The Grove, an indoor-outdoor streetscape with fully retractable roof.

However, not all facilities will be open by August 28.

KidZone, SEGA indoor theme park and the 22-screen Cineplex will only be ready by the end of the year.

"These centres require a dust-free environment and that is the reason we are planning to open them by the end of the year," said a senior official at Emaar.

The numbers

30: The number of Sand Tiger sharks delivered recently for Dubai Aquarium

220: The number of retailers in the gold souk at The Dubai Mall


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