Dubai Safari Park finally looks set to happen this year, providing a happy conclusion to a saga that has rumbled on since the project was first announced five years ago.
Officials now claim the site - which is based in Al Warqa, opposite Dragon Mart - will open in mid-2016. And Time Out Dubai have seen pictures to prove that things are well on the way.
Having been beset by delays, Dubai Municipality now have their foot to the floor on one of their most ambitious projects yet, with a little help from Cape Reed, a world-leading design, construction and installation firm hailing from South Africa.
Images from the company (below) - who are behind the some of the most exclusive properties on The Palm and in Emirates Hills, as well as the Royal Island Beach Club on Lebanon Island, The World, and Sofitel The Palm - show the early stages of construction on key buildings around the 119 hectare site.
In total, Cape Reed are working on around 15 different structures within the Dhs150million park. Using 'sustainable thamnochortus inignis' (also known as 'cape reed') woven in such a way to help control the climate in a far superior way to traditional buildings, they are helping create the heartbeat of the African Village (there will also be Asian and Arabian areas to the park).
Among the buildings are the giraffe feeding area, hippo viewing area, Elephant interaction, an observation tower and tram stations. Cape Reed are also working on fencing, gates and decking to add to the authenticity of the park.
Elsewhere, we know the park will use solar energy and that 'a hybrid operational system will be used to run the irrigation network, which will also include water recycling, waste disposal and other recycling facilities'.
'The new zoo will be home to almost 1,000 animals from around the world, and out of those, there will be more than 350 species of rare and endangered animals,' the director general of Dubai Municipality told Gulf News in December. 'The park will feature 100 different kinds of plants, each related to the area’s theme, with over 2,500 trees.'
Another spokeswoman added: 'A team of specialists visited a number of the world’s best and important zoos, such as those in Indonesia, Singapore, Austria, Germany and the San Diego Zoo. It is important to note that we did not only use their best practices but also adapted them to suit the needs of Dubai.'
As well as the main attractions, there will also be an amateur golf course, a botanical garden and a butterfly garden, in addition to restaurants and a food court, all linked by rubber-wheeled tram and monorail capsules.
For more information on Cape Reed and their Middle East projects, click the link