The world’s largest man-made safari park will open in the UAE on Wednesday April 20.
The Al Ain Safari at Al Ain Zoo is spread across an enormous 217 hectares, which is the equivalent size of more than 300 football pitches, and houses more than 250 animals in the natural habitat.
Both African and Arabian animals now call the space home, including oryx, springbok, eland, blesbok, giraffe, zebra and lion. A significant number of plants native to Africa have also been cultivated, while 2,500 plants and trees moved during construction have been replanted.
"Al Ain Safari has been masterfully crafted out of the desert environment to incorporate its pristine surrounds," Al Ain Zoo director general Ghanim Al Hajeri said in The National. “The experience will be unique, being driven entirely by Emirati tour guides.
"This will emphasise local traditions and warm hospitality, drawing on an unrivalled passion for the UAE’s proud heritage."
Al Ain Zoo revealed 92 per cent of construction waste (1.7 million kgs) created by the redevlopment was either recycled, reused or reduced.
Part of a large expansion at the popular Al Ain Zoo, the safari experience is one of a number of new offerings, among them, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, another UAE first. A large hotel is also in the pipeline, as is an expansion of the natural offerings, with crocodiles and hippos expected to follow.
"These developments are just the beginning," Mr Al Hajeri added. "Al Ain Zoo will position the city of Al Ain as a distinctive tourist destination, locally and regionally, upon the completion of the new developments. This will support Abu Dhabi’s vision towards a diverse economy not dependent on oil."
Doors open officially on Wednesday, with a seat in the tour vehicles set to cost Dhs200 for a 45-minute tour. Six-seater Nissan Patrol 4x4s are also available for private hire from Dhs1,000, report The National.
The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre also stands out as a reason to visit, having been hailed as the UAE's first sustainable building, and the first to achieve a Five Pearl rating from Estidama ('a building design methodology for constructing and operating buildings and communities more sustainably'), and platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.
For more information, visit alainzoo.ae