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Dubai Aquarium

The Dubai Aquarium is listed on many “must-see” lists, but how essential is it to your trip? We find out.

The Dubai Mall itself is an attraction, crowned as the biggest shopping mall in the world and one that would take hours to get through. Within this lies the Dubai Aquarium, an experience that is designed to immerse you within the underwater kingdom, boasting a 10 million litre suspended aquarium with thousands of sea life inhabiting it. If you’ve ever wanted to walk beneath the oceans and observe aquatic life, then the Dubai Aquarium is a dream come true as you’re surrounded by deep blue water and a host of sea life carrying on as if you’re in their kingdom, just passing through.

Lemon Cichlid fish
A sea turtle looks back
..and straight at us!

The ground floor houses the impressive 48 metre long aquarium tunnel, providing an awe-inspiring view from 11 metres below the surface of the tank. Walking through the tunnel itself presents the illusion of travelling through the sea, with sharks, fish and a host of others swimming around, above and below you. There are also information screens to provide information on what’s being seen as well as help you recognise what you’re looking at (or what’s looking at you). The next level up has the underwater zoo, which is not visible to all visitors to the mall and restricted to ticket holders. Here you’ll find aquatic environments such as the rainforest and nocturnal creatures that aren’t in the main tunnel. There are also “touch ponds” where visitors can get hands-on with select species and for an additional cost, you can feed some very special fish.

Do not enter if you’re afraid of rats
The giant water rat

The underwater zoo is aptly named, and full of thousands of fish, including a large school of piranhas as well as otters, crocodiles, parrots, jellyfish, seahorses and even penguins. Note that the penguin cove has a separate ticket. It’s also home to King Croc, one of the world’s largest reptiles measuring over 5 metres long and weighing in excess of 750kg. During our trip, the king was obviously not amused and hardly moved, he simply stared at us, lazily. He remains a sight to behold and on entry, a model of the creature builds anticipation, highlighting his size.

The Crocodile nursery

The sharks were also a definite high point and majestically swam past visitors, menacingly providing a fright, given the proximity to the glass.

Sharks swim close enough to see every detail

Overall, the experience is soothing but short. Given how large the aquarium is, it’s a shame there isn’t more built into the experience to make a day of it. For the price of the ticket, one could be disappointed at the limited length of time needed to explore the attraction, but there will be memories aplenty and talking points that you’ll come back to long after the visit.

If you’re in Dubai and want respite from the heat, dive into the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo for a refreshing look below the surface and wonder at the world beneath us. Thousands of fish, mammals and sea creatures await to welcome you and you’ll leave holding onto the feeling that the Earth is so much more than what’s above the surface and that sometimes, we needn’t look to the stars to find new worlds as there’s a fully habited one right below us.

SE Staff Reviewer.

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