DUBAI // Animals from the overcrowded Dubai Zoo will be relocated to an open safari within the next two years, under plans announced today by the Dubai Municipality.
Officials said they will redevelop 400 hectares of land in Al Warqa'a for the safari project, at a cost of Dh150 million. The safari will house the existing zoo animals and will also accommodate new ones.
"The zoo is one of the issues and has been the big talk for many years" said Mr Hussain Lootah, the municipality's director general.
Animal rights activists have criticised the zoo for its crammed area, shared cages for animals of different species, and poor conditions. Despite the space constraint, Dubai Zoo officials have maintained that the animals are treated with great care.
The ambitious Dubai Safari will be developed on land that has been previously used to dump building materials.
The safari will be divided into African, Asian and Arabian villages, with each village accommodating animals from those respective regions.
Mr Lootah said he hoped the Dubai Safari would be ready by the end of 2014.
As part of the redevelopment, the land will levelled, and infrastructures including recreational facilities will be set up. Visitors will be able to travel around the 400-hectare area on solar-powered buggies.
Also today, municipality officials announced that an existing portion of the Dubai Creek, in front of the Palm Deira, will be dredged further to accommodate 400 large dhows and commercial ships at a time.
Thirty new dhow wharfs will also be set up to facilitate the ships' movements. This project's estimated cost is nearly Dh200 million. It is expected to be completed by the end of next year.