Megaprojects: Masdar City think tank proposes splitting the sea for tourists

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - First came plans to tow an Antarctic iceberg into Fujairah to provide fresh drinking water, then followed an ambitious idea to build an underground railway connecting India with the UAE.

Now, the same Masdar City think tank has created a model to suggest a parting of the Arabian Gulf to open up the sea bed to tourists.

The “Pharaoh’s Pass” concept is brought to life in a short CGI film that shows how offshore engineering can create a giant aquarium off The Palm in or near Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi.

This is an early concept, but we are presenting it to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia as a potential tourism project

Abdullah Al-Shehhi

Although plans only exist in concept, those behind the idea at the National Advisor Bureau insist the dream could one day become reality.

“The project simulates the historical story of the sea split in the era of the Pharaohs, which occurred thousands of years ago,” said Abdullah Al-Shehhi, an electrical engineer who is the bureau’s executive director.

“The Pharaoh’s Pass will be one of the world's wonders, as the sea will be split by a transparent glass wall.

“It will be considered the largest in the world with high safety and security features and enough thickness so that it prevents water leakage.”

The project may seem unlikely but, if completed, designers propose the site could become a unique marine park with retail shops, cafes and seafood restaurants, and surrounded by floating residential villas.

Visitors would be transported within the Pharaoh's Pass in horse-drawn carts, in keeping with 3,000 year traditions of ancient Egypt.

Although the project could be years away, Abdullah Al-Shehhi, executive director of National Advisor Bureau, said investors have already expressed an interest in looking at feasibility studies into how the pass could work. Courtesy: NAB
Although the project could be years away, Abdullah Al-Shehhi, executive director of National Advisor Bureau, said investors have already expressed an interest in looking at feasibility studies into how the pass could work. Courtesy: NAB

There they will be able to see marine creatures swimming and floating inside giant glass walls while the floor of the project will be made of natural sea sand, seashells and marine coral.

Although the project could be years away, Mr Al-Shehhi said investors have already expressed an interest in looking at feasibility studies into how the pass could work.

“This is an early concept, but we are presenting it to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia as a potential tourism project,” he said.

“We would use similar engineering as that used in constructing a dry dock to repair vessels where water is pumped out from an area of land.

“Pumps can remove water from the proposed location to allow the construction to begin.

“Once a barrier is in place, a glass wall can be inserted to create a giant natural aquarium.

“Hopefully, we can generate some solid interest by next year so the project can begin.

“It is an unusual project and unlike anything else. It would be considered as a new wonder of the world.”

UAE megaprojects of 2020 - in pictures

Inside the Mangrove Atrium at Reem Mall, set to open on Abu Dhabi's Reem Island in late 2020. Courtesy Reem Mall

The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences will be located on the crescent of The Palm, next to the Atlantis, The Palm resort. Supplied

The atrium of the ME by Melia hotel in Business Bay, designed by the late Zaha Hadid. Courtesy Melia

Ain Dubai at Bluewaters Island Dubai will be the world's tallest observation wheel when it opens in 2020. Leslie Pableo / The National

An aerial view of Abu Dhabi's Midfield Terminal under construction. The airports and the aviation sector play an integral role in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak. Photo by H.G. Esch

Dubai’s Museum of the Future is nearing completion. Antonie Robertson / The National

The Palm Tower will be home to an 18-floor St Regis hotel, with an infinity pool on the 50th floor. Courtesy Nakheel

Dubai is set to get its own Madame Tussauds waxwork museum. AFP

The Al Wasl Plaza will be the hub for 2020. Courtesy Dubai Expo 2020.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Library is designed to resemble an open book and is opening near Festival City

The Address Sky View was designed by the same architects that created Dubai's Burj Khalifa 

An artist illustration of the Meydan Mall's interior. Courtesy Meydan

A zombie-themed entertainment zone will open at The Night Market in Deira Islands. Courtesy Nakheel

Al Qana will be home to The National Aquarium - the biggest in the Middle East. Courtesy Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities and Al Barakah International Investment

The Mangrove boardwalk is on Jubail Island. Wam

A new zip-line course has opened at Ras Al Khaimah's Jebel Jais, while a bungee jump will open in 2020. Courtesy Action PR Group

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Updated: September 19, 2020 01:00 PM

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