Abu Dhabi’s ‘Oasis City’ of Al Ain has received a boost in its bid to become the Middle East’s conservation capital, with Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort (AWPR) winning the right to host the 70th annual World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) conference.
WAZA is the unifying organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. The body’s network - an influential international group that comprises more than 1,300 institutions - includes leading zoos and aquariums, regional and national associations of zoos and aquariums and affiliate organisations, such as zoo veterinarians and zoo educators from around the world. Together, they are ‘United for Conservation’ and more than 600 million visitors pass through the gates of member zoos and aquariums every year.
Having outmaneuvered other competitive bids, AWPR intends to leverage WAZA’s maiden foray into the Middle East and North Africa region to consolidate its dynamic leisure and learning destination credentials, as well as the Abu Dhabi emirate’s burgeoning reputation for conservation and sustainability.
“Hosting this prestigious global conference will strengthen our position as a world leading wildlife and conservation organisation,” said Ghanim Al Hajeri, Director General, AWPR. “WAZA’s vision is aligned to ours and complements our ambition of reaching full conservation potential. AWPR’s journey started over 40 years ago when His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, first established Al Ain Zoo as the nation’s conservation hub.”
AWPR is a corner-stone project in Abu Dhabi Government’s strategy to position Al Ain as a leading regional cultural and commercial destination. Upon completion in 2013, AWPR’s 900-hectare facility will be five times larger than San Diego Zoo - the world’s current largest zoology park.
In staging WAZA 2015 on site, AWPR is eager to demonstrate the UAE’s diverse geology, paleontology and anthropology offerings, as well as push ahead its commitment to animal care and welfare, environmental education and global conservation in front of the industry’s leaders and decision-makers.
Viewed as Al Ain’s first significant coup in the international meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) calendar, WAZA 2015 will be held at AWPR’s planned, exclusive five-star Hotel & Resort.
“This is a significant step forward in building awareness of Al Ain as an alternative meetings destination, particularly for subjects associated with heritage, culture and sustainability,” said HE Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority; which assisted in securing the WAZA 2015 bid.