The cylindrical aquarium marries retail, entertainment and education. It stretches over four floors of Mall of Dilmunia, allowing visitors to both watch and interact with marine life, either as a stand-alone activity or combined with shopping or dining.
The aquarium contains around 700,000 litres of seawater; it’s 17 metres deep and has a diameter of seven metres. At present it features over 2,700 creatures from 85 species, including sharks and rays. However the number will increase over the next few years to over 4,000.
“The idea was to create a destination for tourists and residents as well,” said Shaikh Mohammed Duaij Al-Khalifa, CEO of Mall of Dilmunia.
Bahrain Aquarium is more than a backdrop for the mall’s activities. Educational tours and classes will be offered, giving an insight into the ecosystems and marine life of Bahrain. On the second floor of the mall, visitors will be able to feed and touch some of the fish. Certified divers will also have the opportunity to explore the cylindrical tank from the inside.
“We are thrilled to be launching soon a diverse mix of exhilarating activities for aqua lovers in the kingdom,” said Rebecca Charlotte Arnold, Deputy CEO of Mall of Dilmunia. “Mall of Dilmunia is confident that Bahrain Aquarium will give people the opportunity to engage in a range of activities which will be fun, interactive, and educational.”
The challenge was to create a “holistically engaging environment” within a very compact space.
The cylindrical aquarium was built and shipped from Italy, and then carefully slotted into the concrete surround.
“Combining the mall’s strategic location, breathtaking views, various amenities and entertainment venues, Bahrain Aquarium is an outstanding addition to Mall of Dilmunia,” says Arnold.
National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi close to opening
Meanwhile the finishing touches are being put on the National Aquarium at Al Qana in Abu Dhabi.
The 9,000 metre facility includes freshwater and marine life, as well as reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. Its aim is for “people to reconnect with nature” over 11 geographical zones and 60 exhibits.
What makes a great aquarium?
Bahrain Aquarium may not be able to match the extent of Abu Dhabi’s attraction but it will still have a strong impact. Aquariums don’t necessarily have to be the biggest, the most impressive, with the most ‘wow’-provoking exhibits to create lasting impressions. “Aquariums are windows to our oceans, seas, bays, rivers and lakes,” says Dr Brian Davis, President and CEO of Georgia Aquarium, interviewed by Blooloop as part of an in-depth analysis of what makes a great aquarium. “They are [also] an amazing amalgam of art, science and technology.”