In December 2016, plans for a new and more eco-friendly SeaWorld were unveiled, the first park not to feature orca whales.
Set to open in 2022, the park will be located on Yas Island and will have a marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre that will open ahead of the theme park, which will focus on ocean conservation education.
The project sees a partnership between SeaWorld and Miral, together offering visitors up-close animal experiences, a world-class aquarium and mega attractions yet to be announced.
“Abu Dhabi is becoming a first choice destination for regional and global travellers by combining culture, heritage and unique leisure experiences into one compelling proposition," said His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Miral. "SeaWorld Abu Dhabi further strengthens Yas Island’s position as the global tourism destination.”
Though details of the park's size and design haven't been released, it will reportedly use 3D mapping and virtual reality technology to immerse guests in virtual subsea expeditions and diving adventures.
The move comes just months after SeaWorld announced that it would be ending its orca-breeding program due to high pressure from animal rights activists.
"This project presents an opportunity for collaboration and greater understanding of how species have adapted to the region’s unique marine environment, and to inspire the next generation of visitors, conservationists and animal care experts,” said Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld.
Yas Island is currently home to the Ferrari World theme park and Emirate's Formula 1 track and SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will be an interesting addition. The centre will be the first of it's kind in the country, providing a state-of-the-art environment for conservationists, researchers and scientists to study the local marine life alongside visitors.