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| 14 December, 2017

Over 14,000 flock to Dubai Safari, more weekend rush expected

Officials said the 3,600 parking slots of the wildlife facility were filled.

An aerial view of Nad Al Sheba Desert in Dubai December 9, 2015. Picture taken December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Karim Sahib/Pool

An aerial view of Nad Al Sheba Desert in Dubai December 9, 2015. Picture taken December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Karim Sahib/Pool

Reuters/Karim Sahib/Pool
Dubai - Since the soft opening of the highly-anticipated Dubai Safari, officials reported huge rush of visitors for free entry that reached 14,000 in the first two days.

Dubai Safari, home to 2,500 animals of over 250 species around the world, attracted a whopping 10,000 guests on Wednesday.

The Dh1 billion wildlife project also welcomed 4,000 visitors, including school children, residents and visitors of all ages and nationalities, as well as members of the local media community.

Officials said the 3,600 parking slots of the wildlife facility were filled. The municipality is collaborating with the Dubai Police to regulate the massive traffic.

"While the traffic clogging is mostly seen outside, there's a smooth flow of movement inside," an official said.

Khalid Al Suwaidi, director of leisure facilities at the Dubai Municipality, said the civic body is "fully equipped to host a larger crowd during the weekend".

"Providing a unique edutainment experience for visitors of all ages, our objective for Dubai Safari is to set an example in wildlife conservation and protection efforts," he added.

Designed to accommodate 10,000 visitors a day, the 119-hectare park will be free for the public for the next two weeks until its official opening in January.

Open from 9am to 5pm during the soft opening period, visitors can explore the open Safari Village and the African village. The Arabian Village, Asian Village and Kids Farm will be accessible when the park officially opens to the public from 9am to 9pm.

As of now, the crowd will come to a close encounter with lions, hyenas, baboons, ostriches, buffaloes and Siberian tigers in the Safari Village, and walk through to see reptiles, white lions and hyenas up close in the African village.

People are urged to arrive to the park early and use alternative modes of transport to avoid getting stuck at the park's main entrance.

Dubai Safari is located in Al Warqaa 5 district across Dubai's Dragon Mart off the Dubai-Hatta Highway. Constructed on a former landfill for construction waste site, the eco-friendly park represents a major landmark project, highlighting the city's continuous efforts to build a sustainable future.

Attention to details

Visiting the park with his children, Dubai resident Khalid Noofal said three hours weren't enough to see the huge park.

"I've been to different safaris around the world including Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka, but Dubai Safari is very different and organised,"' Noofal said.

He noted that services, including the professional Emirati and expat guides, helped make the safari a "great experience" and displayed the organisers' "attention to detail".

"Everything is so organised and you can take different vehicles inside the safari to go wherever you want in an unlimited time." The highlight, he said, was a drive-thru exhibit to a crocodile pit that's not seen anywhere in the world. "You see crocodiles on your left and right while you're inside the bus driving over a bridge. We usually thought that safari will only include a couple of lions, but I saw over six of them."

Noofal also emphasised on the extensive safety measures taken in the park, noting that the park provides facilities that ensure a thorough experience. "There's nothing missed, from cafeterias, restaurants to trees, water ponds and a bridge where you can see it all from the top. It is a definitely unique experience," said Noofal.

Syrian resident George Fatouh, who visited safari with his family, said the highlight of his experience was coming close to the lions. "I've never seen so many lions in my life, so it was pretty exciting."

He added that it also served as a great educational experience to his children who got to learn about different kinds of hyenas, baboons and tigers. "Projects like this expose children to animals in a safe environment at a young age. Perhaps through it, we could really grow a generation more aware of animal rights," said Fatouh.

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