Dh40 million observatory to be built in Dubai
DUBAI // Think of it as a return to the Islamic golden age of astronomy …
A Dh40 million observatory centre has been approved for Mushrif Park in Mirdif, with work expected to start next month.
Hopes are high for Al Thuraya Astronomy Centre to become a regional focal point for astronomy. It is being funded by Dubai Municipality and will be handed over to Dubai Astronomy Group to manage and operate.
Hasan Al Hariri, chief executive of the group, said the centre would have a huge impact on education and tourism.
“We have been in talks with Dubai Municipality to build an observatory in the city and it has now been given the go-ahead,” said Mr Al Hariri. “We hope to begin construction next month.”
Work on the project will take up to nine months to complete.
“We will manage it as a group and our primary focus is to bring the science of astronomy to the wider public,” said Mr Al Hariri.
The observatory will feature a space museum, gallery, a theatre and a one-metre telescope.
It is expected to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We are looking at possibly increasing the size of the telescope to two metres but it depends on whether it’s worth the benefits in image quality,” said Mr Al Hariri.
“It just depends if we can cut the level of light pollution to allow a larger aperture to be more effective, but if not, a one-metre-sized mirror is still very good.”
The centre is not the only project the group wants to develop.
If approved, the Hatta Tourist Observatory will be built on top of a 1,600-metre mountain. “The only way to get to it will be on a cable car, which itself will be a tourist attraction.”
The Mirdif centre will also have a lecture theatre and scientific academy, and will host visits from schools and universities, in addition to annual science exhibitions.
“We want children to develop a sense of exploration about the world they live in, and what better way to do it than to show them our place in the universe?” Mr Al Hariri said.
“I think it will become one of the jewels of tourist attractions in Dubai.
“What I really hope is that once people experience the centre and learn there, they take that sense of wonder back with them.”
The Mirdif complex will be complemented by the Dubai Dark Sky Park, an area where people can view the stars away from the city’s light pollution.
There will be amenities at the site for visitors, including a restaurant.
“We are finalising locations for these two projects but for the dark-sky park, it will have to be away from the city so that we can get the most ideal conditions for star-gazing.”
For more information, visit www.dubaiastronomy.com.
Updated: January 30, 2015 04:00 AM