The world’s largest man-made safari park is opening its doors in Al Ain on Wednesday, giving visitors the chance to get up close and personal with hundreds of animals, all in a natural habitat.
The park, spread across 217 hectares, houses around 250 wild animals at present, but that number is set to increase to around 400, officials said.
Initially, it will offer only an African safari, but plans are on to expand the offering to an elephant sanctuary, an Asian and an Arabian safari.
Largest man-made safari park in the world
The safari extends over 217 hectares – the size of 304 football pitches.
- Tickets for the safari experience cost Dh200 for a seat on a vehicle that allows great views of the animals.
- Alternatively, Nissan Patrol 4x4s, seating six passengers, can be rented for private trips at a cost of Dh1,000 per vehicle.
- A full circuit of the safari area will take between 45 minutes and an hour.
Guests going on the African safari can hope to spot lions, zebras, giraffes and antelopes in their natural environment, without cages or restrictions.
Looking out the windows of the tour vehicle, seeing only wild animals among grass and sand, with mountains in the distance, it is easy to forget that this is in the heart of a modern city.
While the safari and other attractions are being marketed on a small scale at the moment, the zoo has its sights on attracting many foreign tourists, with the construction of a large hotel overlooking the safari in the works.
Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre
The Al Ain Safari at Al Ain Zoo is part of an expansion project, which includes the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, also now open.
The centre has five interactive galleries: Sheikh Zayed Tribute Hall, Abu Dhabi Desert Over Time, Abu Dhabi’s Living World, Looking to the Future and People of the Desert.
Described as the UAE’s first sustainable building, the centre is also the first to achieve a Five Pearl rating from Estidama and a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design platinum certification.
The 1.7 million kilograms of waste that was saved and not sent out into the environment is the equivalent of 24 fully loaded Airbus A320 airliners.
The centre’s special design resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in heat absorption from the Sun, and a 50 per cent saving in energy and water usage.
“These two projects deemed among the largest tourism projects in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, come to culminate the zoo’s efforts to establish vital tourism projects that make Al Ain city an attractive major leisure destination in the emirate,” Al Ain Zoo Director-General Ghanim Al Hajeri, said at a press conference held on Monday at the Zayed Desert Learning Centre in Al Ain.
Al Hajeri said the centre, which spans 12,500 square metres, provides a comprehensive description of the desert environment of Abu Dhabi as well as the tradition and efforts to preserve the environment and sustainability agenda. He added that the centre has been awarded an international certificate in the sustainability field.