The President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has expressed his approval of a plan to make Al Ain Zoo a world-class wildlife destination, as well as a centre of excellence for environmental education and wildlife conservation.
Sheikh Khalifa reviewed plans for the proposed redevelopment of Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium in the presence of General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Sheikh Khalifa recommended the project should be totally integrated with the city of Al Ain's long-term vision and that the zoo should become the pride of the city.
"The redevelopment of Al Ain Zoo will be more than a wildlife experience," said Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun AI Nahyan, chairman of Al Ain Zoo and Aquarium Authority. "In fact, it is a destination resort integrated within living communities at the heart of the oasis. These communities will provide visitors the choice of a high-class family hotel and a high-end family resort, with access to the stunning themed wildlife parks.
About a third of the site will be residential and be available for lease or sale."
Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort will be a mixed-use development that will also include different themed deserts – Arabia, Africa and Central Asia – where visitors will be able to taste and experience the beautiful wildlife and culture of several regions.
The development of the park will be done in phases. Phase one, which is due for completion as early as in 2010, includes the Arabian and African Safaris, a resort, retail areas as well as a residential community.
"The redevelopment of Al Ain Zoo does not only involve the construction of new facilities, but also includes a potential long-term partnership with the Zoological Society of San Diego that will undoubtedly bring Al Ain to new heights, said Sheikh Sultan, who is also chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
"The new development will also host the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre as a tribute to the late President's vision and love of the environment, wildlife and Al Ain Zoo," Sheikh Sultan said.
The AI Ain Zoological Park was established in 1967 and it is the largest zoo in the Middle East at 850 hectares. The zoo's grounds take in the foothills of the Hajjar Mountains, home to the UAE's highest peak, Jabel Hafeet.