The world’s largest underwater theme park planned in Dubai
A new underwater attraction in Dubai, apparently inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, aims to attract scuba diving and snorkelling tourists to the emirate
The Pearl of Dubai, set in the shallow waters of The World Islands development off the coast of Dubai, has been modelled after the mythical lost city of Atlantis and inspired by the look of the Hollywood films Pirates of the Caribbean and Avatar, according to Reef Worlds, the Los Angeles-based underwater tourism design company developing the project.
The five-acre park, billed as the largest sustainable underwater tourism site, will be accessible to swimmers and divers of all ages and levels who can view the site near the surface of the sea by snorkelling or explore it deeper underwater by scuba diving. The company hopes to create a park where “everybody can be satisfied”, with children able to snorkel, while parents go diving and teenagers explore the waters in a semi-submersible, The National, the Abu Dhabi-based daily, reported earlier this year.
“Ideally, we would be looking for somebody to be able to walk down the sand and right into the structure”, said David Taylor, director of development for Reef Worlds.
The Pearl of Dubai (photo by Reef Worlds)
The project is hoping to attract tourists from the $3bn scuba diving and snorkelling market as well as a variety of marine life to The World, an artificial archipelago of 300 islands, the construction of which began in 2003 but was put on hold when the 2008 financial crisis hit. As of late last year, only two of the islands had been developed.
"The UAE has a unique tourism problem that we address. When one considers Dubai and the region, scuba diving and underwater exploration is not on the Top Ten list, and yet it is almost everywhere else in the world," said Taylor.
"The Reef Worlds brand is all about sustainability and the creation of new habitat while at the same time adding instant tourism revenue and excitement to waterfront resorts," he added.
The company has yet to announce an official opening date for the Pearl of Dubai. It is also currently working on parks to boost tourism in the Philippines.
The UAE’s most populous city has been known for its ambitious tourism projects and grand scale attractions, including the Mall of the World (the world’s largest shopping mall) and the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), and the Dubai Eye (the world’s biggest Ferris wheel), plans for which were approved last year as part of a major new tourist complex.
Last year, Dubai unveiled plans for the Water Discus hotel, an underwater hotel where guests could have the option of sleeping below the surface of the sea. The 21-room complex would feature large disc-shaped buildings both above and below the water, with facilities including a bar and a dive centre. The hotel's "legs" would actually be lifts, transporting guests between the two sections.
Earlier this year, the city announced its plans to become the 'world’s most visited city', attracting 20 million tourists by 2020 to coincide with the Expo 2020, an international architecture and technology trade fair which is expected to bring $23bn into the emirate.
Other developments underway include Mohammad Bin Rashid City, a multi-billion dollar tourism, retail and arts centre, which will include a park ready to accommodate 35 million visitors, the largest area for arts galleries in the Middle East and North Africa, and Dubai’s Mall of the World.
Bluewaters Island, a £963 million reclaimed land development, will be home to The Dubai Eye, while the Dubai Water Canal, adding six kilometres to the waterfront, will see the arrival of 450 new restaurants and a wide array of luxurious marinas for yachts.
MBR District One will contain a 350,000 sq m water park and Dubai Adventure Studios, expected for completion this year, will have five theme parks.