According to Abu Dhabi’s Miral Asset Management, its joint venture with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, called SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, is 40 percent complete. Hill Path Capital Founder and SeaWorld Chairman, Scott Ross, noted that the partners were building “the first new SeaWorld park in over 30 years and the first park outside of North America.” The new facility is scheduled to open in 2022.
The recent milestone was marked by a visit from His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office. The chairman of Miral, His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, also commented, saying, “This is yet another great new addition to Yas Island.”
Yas Island is Abu Dhabi’s centerpiece of global destination entertainment. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will be one of the final significant attractions, joining Yas Waterworld Water Park, Ferrari World, and Warner Brothers World. Yas Island also features a Grand Prix racetrack, a luxurious marina, a golf course, a megamall, and seven hotels. Mr. Ross noted that, “Yas Island is a visionary and transformational project and is already becoming a landmark destination for global travelers.”
“We are thrilled SeaWorld will be a part of this special place,” Ross said. But SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will itself be a pretty special place.
Its size, almost two million square feet on multiple levels, puts it among the world’s largest indoor theme parks. It will be centered by what Miral has called “one of the world’s largest and most progressive indoor aquariums” and features interactive exhibits and rides.
The park will be divided into six regions or “lands,” but all will be tied together by SeaWorld’s “One Ocean” theme. Animals will be housed with several species together, the way they actually live in the untamed ocean.
While SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will provide experiences that matter for visitors from all over the globe, its purpose doesn’t stop there. According to Ross, the park “will further expand our vitally important marine life research, rescue, conservation and education efforts in the region.”
It will be the first center dedicated to marine research, rescue, rehabilitation, and return in the United Arab Emirates. It will provide scientists and conservationists a resource to better understand and preserve aquatic species. This park will emphasize regional species such as the sea turtle and the dugong.
The park aims to provide an educational experience for visitors as well. It will strive to help everyone understand how, in SeaWorld’s words, “We are connected to the Ocean, and the Ocean connects all of us.”
In support of this effort, SeaWorld brings over 55 years of conservation, animal welfare, and research experience. Over its lifetime, SeaWorld has provided aid to more than 37,000 animals.
In 2015 Ross founded Hill Path Capital LP, and still serves as the managing partner for the investment firm. Before founding Hill Path Capital, Ross was an investment manager with Apollo Global Management, and previously served on the board of directors of Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., EVERTEC, Inc. and CEC Entertainment, Inc. (the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese’s and Peter Piper Pizza). Ross was named to SeaWorld’s Board in 2017, and named Chairman in 2019.