x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Dh140m RAK water park to open by May

An Dh800 million amusement park expected to give a jolt to Ras al Khaimah's economy will open in less than a year.

Ras al Khaimah // An Dh800 million (US$218m) amusement park expected to give a jolt to Ras al Khaimah's economy will open in less than a year, executives said yesterday. The first phase of the WOW RAK park - a Dh140m snow-themed Ice Land Water Park - will open its gates and welcome its first visitors in May 2009, they said. Previous media reports had said the park was scheduled to open this past May.

Construction on the site has been booming in recent weeks, after a period of apparent inactivity that had some residents wondering about the fate of the project. The 118-acre park, which lies beside Mina al Arab, in Al Jazira, is an integral part of the Ras al Khaimah coastline development plan intended to transform the emirate into a tourist destination. The project is being managed by Polo RAK Amusements, a joint venture between Polo Amusement Park, RAK Investment Authority and RAK Properties.

When completed, it will be able to welcome 15,000 visitors a day. Two more sections will follow in 2010 - an interactive shopping bazaar and a planetary theme park. Basant Chawla, the director of operations at Polo RAK, said construction was well on its way. "Everything was done very quickly and efficiently," he said. The water park, whose mascot is a penguin, will offer a visitors piece of winter in the desert. Attractions include the world's largest man-made waterfall on a tiered mountain top, from which visitors can plunge into a diving pool.

"When you enter, you have the ambience of Antarctica," said Mr Chawla. "Everything is white, everything is snowy." It will also have water slides, an aqua soccer pool with artificial rainfall and something called an Iberian rain-dance pool. "Basically, that's a disco in the pool itself," said Mansi Chawla Saada, the public relations director of Polo RAK. For overnight guests, there will be 70 chalet-style cabanas and a budget hotel.

The shopping bazaar, the second phase of the project, is scheduled to open at the start of 2010 and have 125 shops. It will also offer activities for children, including puppet-making and face-painting. The mall provides an entrance to the park, ensuring visitors do not have to walk too far or queue in the heat. The planetary theme park, to open at the end of 2010, will have five zones: mountain, jungle, space, ocean and earth.

Each will have its own rides and restaurants. In the mountain zone, visitors can take a boat through a snowy mountain or make a quick descent on a toboggan ride. At its centre will be a lake where evening shows will be performed. The project was launched in 2006 and construction began early last year. azacharias@thenational.ae