By: Hyacinth Mascarenhas
When it opened in January of this year, expectations for Abu Dhabi’s latest water park, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi, were certainly high.
As one of multiple world-class parks in UAE, the park, with 43 ride, slides, and attractions, stands out with its award-winning traditional Emirati theme and some of the fastest and largest waterslides in the world.
The “Legend of the Lost Pearl” storyline which follows the adventures of Dana, a young Emirati girl and her quest for the legendary lost pearl, was developed during the conceptual stages of the water park and are intricately woven into its various sections and rides.
“The legend highlights an important part of Emirati heritage,” said Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi Marketing Director Abby Cronje. “Pearl diving was inherent to early Emirati culture – the theme in the water park was designed to uphold and celebrate this time-honored tradition.”
Developed by Aldar Properties and managed by Farah Leisure Management, who also operates Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the water park also incorporates rides that are both regionally and internationally unique.
One of the park’s must-try rides include Dawwama, the world’s first and largest hydro magnetic-powered six-person Tornado waterslide that feature’s the world’s longest funnel run-in at 238 meters.
The park also features a regionally unique attraction, the Hairat Yas, that showcases traditional Emirati pearl diving. This interactive attraction allows guests to guide live divers to the oyster of their choice and opened to reveal a hidden pearl that can then be made into a piece of jewelry as a unique and memorable souvenir of Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi.
The water park also runs weekly ‘Ladies nights’ every Thursday from 5pm until 10pm.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is also the first water park in the Middle East to be certified with a “green” sustainability rating and was designed using criteria outlined by Estidama, a sustainability program featured in the Abu Dhabi 2030 plan.
“When it comes to operating a water park in a water scarce region, we needed to put a lot of thought into making sure the project was as water and energy efficient as it possibly could be,” said Park Manager Tim Mow
Using advanced water conservation, filtration and mechanical systems from automatic level control units to installed shades, the park incorporates green methods and infrastructure to minimize water wastage and reduce evaporation rates.
The park even shut off all electricity at the park on March 23 to commemorate Earth Hour 2013 and demonstrate its solidarity with the global energy conservation cause.
“Our goal was to make the systems as lean as possible in terms of water wastage and we have been able to accomplish a significant reduction in water usage, as compared to other water parks of a similar size,” Mow said.
Celebrating sustainability and environmental responsibility, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi also participated in the Green Abu Dhabi 2013 initiative to educate younger generations about art, the environment and green practices.
Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi’s Sculpture Weekend, a combination of 130 kids and parents participated in designing four 5-foot sculptures using recycled trash together with New-York based sculptor, Chris Oricchio. The sculptures were brought to Abu Dhabi through Gulftainer, one of the largest privately owned port management and logistics company in the world, who managed the shipping logistics and customs.
Oricchio, who designed the initial sculpture skeletons, kept in theme with Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi by designing four iconic sea creatures – a sea horse, a conch shell, a crab and a stingray.
“We chose iconic sea creatures so they would be universally recognizable but also made sure that they were indigenous to the area so they would strike a chord with the local community,” said Oricchio. “Each animal also has a form that translates well as sculpture.”
The sculptures will later be auctioned to the highest bidder during the Community Celebrity Auction with half the money going to the Future Centre for Special Needs of Abu Dhabi and the other half towards Green Abu Dhabi’s Landmark Mangrove Project, an initiative that aims to clear the emirate’s mangroves of waste.
Oricchio also acknowledged the challenge in engaging the community to promote the practice of sustainability and said that art was effective in this event through its collaborative and interactive nature.
Engaging the community
Encompassing the true sense of the word community, the mini-event included more than 30 sponsors and partners for Green Abu Dhabi 2013 and about 130 kids and parents from schools across Abu Dhabi.
Spearheaded by local artist Suhail Jashanmal, Green Abu Dhabi aims to raise awareness on the plight of Abu Dhabi’s mangroves, promote environmental understanding and encourage sustainability within the community.
“You can’t just tell someone what to do,” said Jashanmal. “So first we tell them why what they are doing is important. Then we have fun doing it. And finally we build in incentives to do so. This method we believe produces activities that help those that participate retain why they should care about the environment and sustainability, and as far as educating the young, to take on that message.”
By embracing regionally unique themes and culture as well as participating in local green initiatives, Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi is already making news for more than its entertainment factor.
“As a nation, the UAE has proudly built the best infrastructure, created buildings to the tallest and highest levels, and on a professional and personal note, I am honored to be part of an initiative that focuses the same passion and drive into our environment.”