Dubai Safari will open doors by next year’s end


Incorporating green technologies and energy-efficient designs, Dubai will welcome its visitors with a new unique landmark showcasing wild animals and birds in their natural habitat. The unique for the region project worth AED 150 million, called Dubai Safari is going to open by the end of the next year, officials at the Dubai Municipality announced on Monday.

Replacing the original Dubai Zoo, the new park will cover 120 hectares in the Al Warqa area along the Al Aweer Road and will include a zoo and safari park, botanical garden, a special butterfly park, a resort and even a golf course. Since May 2012 when the Municipality officially announced the beginning of the project, huge excavation work has been carried out, followed by leveling and landscaping for the future building of roads and infrastructure. The preparational, first phase of Dubai Safari has now been completed according to schedule, said Hussain Nassir Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality, and by the end of 2014, the project will open doors for visitors. The place is expected to attract thousands of tourists with rich greenery, water installations, and of course, more than a 1,000 animals and birds.

Lootah confirmed that they will start working on phase 2 within two weeks, with setting up the road and water infrastructure. He explained that the first stage took longer to complete because the area was actually a dumping ground, so it had to be fully cleaned up and leveled. But the bigger challenge for designers and builders was devising a construction which will provide controlled environment for the specific species, considering the summer heat, especially between May and September. They came up with the idea of creating large buildings which will use simple water-cooled greenhouse technology. Temperatures will be further reduced with the use of dense, rich vegetation, not only for the animals but also for visitors who will feel comfortable in such an environment.

The life however for the animals in the old zoo, is not so convenient or pleasant, a fact for which the authorities have been criticized for several years. The current Dubai Zoo was built in 1967 by Otto J. Bulart with the permission of the late H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum who allowed a construction on only two hectares. Located in a plot in Jumeirah, the park is still the oldest zoo in the Arabian Peninsula and the first Arabian zoo to breed Chimpanzee and Gordon’s wildcat. Currently it houses around 230 animal species, including rare and endangered species such as cormorant, Bengal tiger, gorilla, Siberian tiger, golden eagle and many others.

Although in the first years the zoo had only a few animals, today it has become a home to thousands of animals that can barely hold in an increasingly small confinement. Animal rights activists, residents and even tourist organizations and agencies have strongly criticized the zoo and the authorities about the poor living conditions and small cages. This in fact became the main reason for planning a new zoo – Dubai Municipality has made designs since 2003, but in 2009 all projects were put on hold. In 2012 the municipality commissioned a study analyzing the complex problems of the zoo and finding the best solution for them. The new concept was smart, innovative and ambitious and included strict following of the international standards for space allocation and care for each species.

By the end of 2014 animals and birds will find a new, cozy and cool home in the Dubai Safari, which is expected to provide the best conditions for wildlife in the world. At the huge area of 29 hectares, the zoo will replace the old facilities with new, smart decisions. One of them is the idea of dividing the place into four different areas – African, Asian and Arabian villages and an open safari. The different species will have the same natural environments as they would do if being in their original habitat. Officials at the municipality also explained that there will be a wadi and a real waterfall in the park, as water is used as a central theme in the project. This seems to become true, even in the middle of the desert apparently, with the help of new technologies and eco-thinking. The designers will use solar energy, water recycling and waste recycling as part of water and energy conservation.


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