x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai’s own Atlantis-style underwater theme park planned for The World islands

Los Angeles-based Reef Worlds is working on designs for two sites under the working title The Pearl of Dubai near the shallow waters off The World islands development.

Early concept art for Reef Worlds “Pearl of Dubai” underwater attraction at The Worlds islands in Dubai. Courtesy Reef Worlds
Early concept art for Reef Worlds “Pearl of Dubai” underwater attraction at The Worlds islands in Dubai. Courtesy Reef Worlds

DUBAI // An underwater attraction that resembles an Atlantis-style ancient sunken city is being planned off the coast of Dubai.

Located in the shallow waters off The World islands development, the concept will be designed for use by snorkelling and scuba-diving enthusiasts.

Los Angeles-based Reef Worlds is working on designs for two sites under the working title The Pearl of Dubai.

“I like to say we build for two clients – one has a credit card and the other one has fins,” said Dave Taylor, the company’s director of development. “We are at The World islands to create excitement underwater where it does not exist, and at the same time create a habitat for the fish life that is there and hopefully get a sustainable win for everybody.”

The official unveiling of the project is expected in spring. One of the main objectives of the design team will be to create an experience suitable for swimmers and divers of all ability levels.

“Ideally, we would be looking for somebody to be able to walk down the sand and right into the structure,” Mr Taylor said.

Besides access, safety will be another priority.

“How can we get access so that the kids can go snorkel, the parents can go dive, the teenagers can go in a semi-submersible and go look, everybody can be satisfied by this?” Mr Taylor said.

While the concrete structures will be designed to provide an interesting underwater experience, they will also aim to attract a wide variety of marine life. They can first be colonised by algae and soft corals, eventually providing enough food for herbivorous fish, which in turn could attract predators.

An initial survey of the areas, as well as earlier scientific work in the vicinity, revealed good potential for the structure to attract interesting marine life, Mr Taylor said.

The outer breakwater protecting The World development “is absolutely festooned with wildlife”, he said, adding that this augurs well for hopes that the underwater lost city would be colonised by marine life too.

The details of the design will be influenced by knowledge of what already exists in the area.

“You want to get an idea of the neighbourhood because you are building in a neighbourhood,” Mr Taylor said.

For example, he said, an abundance of parrot fish will mean the design has to provide for voids and shelves to suit their needs.

“Parrot fish need a place to sleep overnight,” he said. “They are actually one of the few fish species that sleep at night, in this mucus cocoon that they make for themselves, but they have a very specific niche that they need to be in.”

The design process will take about eight months, and the plan calls for the concrete structures to be manufactured locally.

An official announcement on the project is expected in March, Mr Taylor said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae