SeaWorld is coming to the UAE.
Set to be built on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi by 2022, the controversial project is branching out from the US for the first time, and promising a bold new outlook on research, animal rescue and rehabilitation.
Being bought to the region by the Abu Dhabi government-backed MiralAsset management following several years of discussions, the world famous sealife centre is said to be a 'theme park with focus on education about ocean conservation'. Its expertise will also extend towards the capital's own programmes.
The story first appeared on The National, who spoke with Mohamed Al Zaabi, chief executive of Miral.
Addressing the controversy that surrounds the centre, ramped up since the release of a documentary called Blackfish that highlighted the plight of orca whales in branches across the USA, Al Zaabi said the Abu Dhabi centre would be part of the brand's 'new direction'.
SeaWorld chief executive Joel Manby added that the Abu Dhabi park would be the first to operate without the giant sea creatures.
He said: "This gives us a chance to position the new SeaWorld in a very strong way, repositioning it from a company that’s only about certain species to a company that is focused on ocean health."
No details about size, costs or types of attractions have been revealed, although The National reports the location will have thrill rides and aquariums, as well as 3D mapping and virtual reality.
SeaWorld has over 30 years helped treat 28,000 animals and employed 1,500 marine experts, according to Miral.