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Oman’s first oceanarium, aquarium coming up

At a time when everyone is talking  of proper utilisation of Oman’s unique mountains and restoration of its traditional villages,  Nakheel al Shamal (NAS) International LLC is planning something different - It is very keen on  tapping the potential of sultanate’s vast coastline.

An architectural project based on sustainable development, Oman’s first oceanarium and aquarium will offer something different to tourists.

In an exclusive interview to Muscat Daily, Saleh Ahmed al Badi, chairman, NAS International LLC said, “The real picture of the underwater world is not known to the people as very few go for diving and related activities. So, we have planned a world- class aquarium to serve the society.” There is no specialised installation or a centre to showcase the natural marvels and cultural richness of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and the Sea of Oman. “A museum of the Indian Ocean, the Sea of Oman, next to the terminal for tourist cruises in Muscat, will be an ideal initiative to showcase this heritage,” he said.

An aquarium and oceanarium is being planned with a permanent exhibition of coral reefs, tropical fish, big open-sea predators, sharks, turtles and other underwater species, displayed between atolls, tropical coastlines and deep waters along with reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds, the species that pertain most to the coastlines and jungles that surround the ocean. “This centre would be a centre of culture and leisure for adults, youngsters and children,” said Badi, adding, “Content wise, it would be one of its kind in the region. 

Knowledge of this heritage, which is important to Oman and the world, is today the privilege of a few. “The Pacific and Atlantic oceans already have numerous installations in various countries of the world giving a permanent exhibition of their characteristics and biodiversity; so Oman needs one immediately,” he said.

There is a new understanding of tourism that encompasses the idea of leisure for the whole family through access to culture and the observation of nature. “This will be the perfect short-holiday destination for all. Families can plan their weekends here too.”  He mentioned that there would be a children’s play area around the aquarium, to enable parents take their children along and at the same time enjoy their time, besides restaurants and cafés. “Diving options will be made available inside the aquarium,” said Badi.

The main location for the aquarium will be finalised with the investors. “The project, which would cost between RO5mn and RO30mn, is being carried out in collaboration with an European company, specialised in engineering, aquariology and nature exhibitions.” NAS International has signed an MoU with the company for the project. “We are inviting investors now,” said Aravind A, business director, NAS International. He mentioned that the international company must have a history of undertaking numerous projects of this type, which includes design, construction and training of personnel for maintenance and management.

Talking of expansion plans, V Sridharan, senior vice president at NAS International, said that this is being done in a way that there is one aquarium in each governorate; the models should match the landscape of the area. “The main one will be in Muscat, followed by mini aquariums outside Muscat.”

If permission is obtained from the government, there are possibilities of building it underwater. “As of now, the plan is to build it off water. It would be done in such a way that the person entering it will have a feeling of being underwater,” he added.

Interested investors can email sridharan@nasoman.com

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