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Swimming with the fishes… - By Rebecca Wicks

I'm sure I'm not the only one getting ridiculously excited about Dubai's impending Dolphinarium, due to open to the public in what is now a fairly serene Creekside Park. I even went as far as checking out the website, in anticipation of finally having that one on one encounter with a real-life flipper. The design looks a little… how can I put it… overly artistic? The proposed buildings are colourful enough, but picture what a wall might look like if you actually gave a dolphin a crayon and told it to scribble something different with every leap out of the water. Hmmm.

Anyway, apparently, works on the Dhs33 million "edutainment" project are almost complete, and we can fully expect to be swimming with the fishes (quite literally) by the end of summer.

It's a great word, this newly fathomed "edutainment", isn't it. Dubai is using it a lot lately - especially to enhance the family values they hope will be associated with the soon-to-open Dubai Mall, which will feature SEGA Republic and Discovery Zone. Interestingly, the new Atlantis Hotel is set to feature a dolphin attraction, too - only they're not trying to bill it as "edutainment". Are we to assume then, that any child who wakes up on a Saturday and screams: "Mummy I want to play with the dolphins NOW!" will be hauled to the Dolphinarium as opposed to a luxury hotel on the Palm, in the name of education?

It'll be interesting to see what happens there.
"This facility will include a water circus show, dolphin therapy, dolphin sighting excursions, and lectures among others," said Lootah - an official involved in the new venture, set to span an impressive 4,900 metres. Visitors are expected to flock to watch live, choreographed performances of dolphins and sea lions, as well as to participate in various lectures and shows, with the intention of introducing everybody to marine life… in the desert.

Oh, the irony, I hear you cry. Well, we can't exactly experience these magical creatures in the sea, when we're building on top of it all the time, can we? But fear not, Dubai Municipality is encouraging the Dolphinarium because it's helping to preserve those species that do exist in the Gulf… somewhere.

The best bit of course, is bound to be that personal experience with Flipper. Guests will get a one-on-one encounter for up to 30 minutes! We're assuming that's whether the dolphins like it or not, but they're intelligent creatures - we'd probably hear about it if they didn't.
"Desert-bound dolphin in angry protest" would be a headline to remember, wouldn't it.

Posted: 15 May 2008

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