Go in through the main entrance of the Dubai Mall, one of the first things you’ll see is the spectacular “viewing panel” of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo – an enormous fish tank 8m high and 30m wide, packed with a huge array of marine life ranging from delicately coloured little tropical species through to large and unforgettably ugly grouper.
An underwater tunnel allows you to walk, literally, through the middle of the tank, and although you won’t see anything that you can’t already see from the mall outside (and for free), the sight of sharks and stingrays swimming around above your head is interestingly weird, and guaranteed to appeal to kids. Glass-bottom boat rides (25dh) across the top of the tank are also available, and you can even go diving in it by prior arrangement.
The “Underwater Zoo” upstairs is relatively low-key in comparison. “King Croc”, a five-metre long saltwater crocodile from Australia, rules the roost here, accompanied by assorted other creatures featuring the marine life of different habits – anything from tiny cichlids and poison-dart frogs through to penguins and seals.
There’s a wide selection of activities available including glass-bottom boat tours, a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour, and visits to see croc- and shark-feeding. You can also arrange diving and snorkelling packages.