The new National Aquarium in Abu Dhabi will have a wildlife rehabilitation scheme, after a deal was signed with The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).
The largest aquarium in the Middle East will work closely with the EAD to conserve animals, with a focus on sea turtles, as per the terms of the agreement, which was signed by HE Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary general of EAD and Fouad Mashal, CEO of Al Barakah International Investment, developer of Al Qana and The National Aquarium.
Also agreed was a plan for the aquarium to support EAD's awareness and educational campaigns for the next five years, as well as hosting interns and hosting research studies.
Al Dhaheri said: "As far back as 2001 we have been working on conserving sea turtles in Abu Dhabi waters. Now, the overall foraging sea turtle populations, namely Hawksbill and Green Turtles, have been relatively stable over the last decade. Based on data from aerial surveys, we have more than 5,000 wild sea turtles in our waters.”
Mashal said: “The National Aquarium is one of the key attractions that will play an important role in Al Qana’s life. Beyond the social dining and entertainment destinations, our vision is to also raise awareness in Abu Dhabi and across the globe. With The National Aquarium set to become one of the UAE’s top tourist attractions, we have a unique opportunity to speak to people from all around the world about the great conservation work being done here in Abu Dhabi.\
"We are honoured to partner with EAD and invest in such an inspiring program. To bring this exceptional project to life, we have hired a world-class team of experts to manage the rehabilitation of important marine and terrestrial wildlife in the emirate.”
Paul Hamilton, general manager of The National Aquarium said: “We want to create memorable moments for people to reconnect with nature. Our daily lives have become disconnected from the natural world and while we are slowly realising the impact that humans are having on the environment, there is still a long way to go to address these issues. That is why it is so important to reach new audiences and educate future generations about the importance of protecting and rehabilitating our wildlife and ecosystems.
“We recognise the important role we must play with regards to education and the conservation of Abu Dhabi’s natural treasures. Hence, we have constructed specialised facilities and a rapid response vehicle to assist our veterinarians in effectively reacting to wildlife emergencies.”
The National Aquarium will provide treatment support and in-house care before being returned to nature. Al Qana is expected to open by the end of 2020.