UAE on Course to Unveil the World’s Largest Aquarium

The United Arab Emirates is no stranger to massive construction. Just look at Dubai – a city with a skyscraper-filled skyline dominated by the 830-metre-tall Burj Khalifa. However, it’s Abu Dhabi, just down the coast, which will soon be home to the biggest aquarium in the world.

Located on Yas Island, the brand-new visitor attraction will boast a colossal tank holding almost 60 million litres of water – over twice the originally planned volume. Bearing the controversial SeaWorld name, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi’s showpiece will be a 58-million-litre aquarium expected to house tens of thousands of individual fish.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi’s centrepiece will be nine million litres bigger than the world’s current largest aquarium – China’s 49-million-litre Chimelong Ocean Kingdom. It’ll also be over three times the size of the internationally-renowned tank—once the world’s biggest—at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago in the United States (19 million litres).

An artist’s render of the finished SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

The UAE-based attraction will open to the public in 2023. Officials are marketing the venue as a marine-life theme park. However, and thankfully, unlike other SeaWorld locations, the Abu Dhabi Yas Island aquarium won’t contain any orcas.

Instead, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will house species like manta rays and, perhaps only slightly less controversial than orcas, sea turtles (hopefully with an emphasis on conservation, rescue, rehabilitation, and return/release). Split across five floors, the so-called marine-life theme park will also be home, somewhat oddly, to amphibians and reptiles.

The vast 58-million-litre tank at its heart promises what the still-under-construction SeaWorld Abu Dhabi’s team calls an immersive design. It’s something that’s facilitated, in part at least, by a 20-metre-high vertical viewing window.

SeaWorld has declined to respond to questions surrounding the construction of its near-60-million-litre Abu Dhabi location’s world-record-breaking aquarium. However, we expect the acrylic walls of the display to be at least three feet thick. The tank will also likely run on natural seawater pumped in from the adjacent coast – handy in the UAE’s desert climate.

(Images courtesy of SeaWorld Entertainment/Miral.)