Assuming you come in the mall’s main entrance off Financial Centre Road, one of the first things you’ll see is the spectacular viewing panel of the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo: a huge, transparent floor-to-ceiling aquarium filled to the brim with fish large and small, including sand-tiger sharks, stingrays, colourful shoals of tropical fish and some large and spectacularly ugly grouper. The viewing window holds the record for the world’s largest acrylic panel: at around 8m high and over 30m wide, with 33,000 fish, 70 species and 10 million litres of water, it’s effectively the largest fish tank on the planet, although the similarly huge aquarium at The Lost Chambers runs it close. Entrance to the aquarium allows you to walk through the underwater tunnel which runs through the middle of the tank, although you won’t really see anything you can’t already see from the mall, and for free.
The Underwater Zoo upstairs is relatively unexciting compared to the enormous tank, and more likely to appeal to children than to adults. The various displays are arranged according to different marine habitats (rainforest, “living ocean” and “rocky shore”) with representative fauna from each, ranging from tiny cichlids, poison-dart frogs and soapfish through to otters, penguins, seals and “King Croc”, a 5m-long Australian saltwater crocodile. As well as basic aquarium tours there are all sorts of other packages and add-ons available, including glass-bottomed boat rides and submersible trips, croc-feeding and assorted snorkelling and diving.