Friday, 13 January 2017

The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center

The Al Ain Zoo expanded last April, adding the Al Ain Safari area just next door. It is massive, the equivalent size of more than 300 football fields, and houses more than 250 African and Arabian animals in their natural habitat. We didn't explore this part this time, but I hope to go back and do the safari soon.

One part of the Zoo that did fascinate us all though, was the brand new Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Center (SZDLC), only inaugurated late last year. It was absolutely amazing!

This is an educational facility that combines knowledge and learning through a string of interactive exhibits. Even the kids got all wrapped up and loved walking around absorbing all the information.
Funky looking stairs! Maybe designed to look like the desert dunes..?

The center consists of five galleries:
The Sheikh Zayed Tribute Hall
Abu Dhabi's Desert Over Time
Abu Dhabi's Living World
People of the Desert
Looking to the Future
After we passed the Sheikh Zayed Tribute Hall we started with the Abu Dhabi Desert Over Time. We learned all about deserts, for example how they are formed:

They had a model of the caves of Jebel Hafeet, and showed f.e which animals who use the caves as shelter for their desert life:

 The kids found an interactive exhibit where they could help dig for finds in the sand.

Sand from different deserts of the world, for example sand from the Empty Quarter and Hawaii, red sand from Uluru in Australia, sand from Utah, USA and black sand from Athabasca in Canada.

A Ghaf tree, the national tree of the UAE. Their roots can reach more than 30 meters in length, so they reach down to the groundwater.

Entering the People of the Desert exhibit. Really interesting, especially for me with a lot of information I will be able to use in my tour guiding. Tons of infor about date palms, camels, fishing and pearling.

The last exhibit was called Looking to the Future. The UAE has clear development guidelines they follow as the country grows. The plan is to implement sustainable development by using less water and energy; and having more public transportation, vegetation and energy-efficient buildings.

The building itself is the first sustainable building in the UAE, and the first to achieve a Five Pearl rating from the government sustainability group Estimada. This whole project has been based on sustainability and conservation, with 92% of the construction waste being either recycled, reused or reduced.

The view from the top balcony, over Jebel Hafeet:

There is a small extra fee (30 AED) if you would like to include a visit to the SZDLC when you go to the Zoo. Please DON'T MISS IT! It is so worth it!

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