New zoo to have drive-through safaris, treetop hotel

 25 Feb 2014 - 2:33


Gregory Clarkson, Senior Planner, Ashghal, addressing the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World Conference yesterday.

Cable car to link zoo with Villaggio

DOHA: The New Doha Zoo to be built by 2020 will feature drive-through safaris, a unique elephant walkway and an exclusive seven-star treetop hotel, a senior official of the Public Works Authority (Ashghal) revealed at the Tourism in Tomorrow’s World conference yesterday.
The sprawling zoo, set to come up on a 71-hectare site in Al Waab, will be linked to Aspire Park and Villaggio mall via a cable car, a dedicated tram service and a custom-built walkway to create a “zoo within a park.”
Speaking on the theme, ‘New Doha Zoo — a case study in sustainable approach to tourist development in Qatar’, Gregory Clarkson, a senior planner with Ashghal, outlined the concept and vision for the zoo, which will help make Qatar a global tourist attraction. 
Clarkson, who has previously worked at Hong Kong Disneyland, said the zoo would be split into zones and would feature animal attractions including gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos and an elephant walkway on a bridge linking the zoo on the south side of Al Waab Street with Aspire Park to the north. 
He said the zoo will also include drive-through African and Asian Safari zones, walk-through African and Asian safari areas, a mountain experience and a tropical rainforest environment. 
He added that planners were working on a design that would allow visitors to take their cars through certain areas of 
the zoo.
The zoo will have an innovative controlled biosphere roof system — the first of its kind in the world — where it will rain once an hour, and a river ride throughout the zoo network.
Visitors will be able to get to the zoo by cable car from Villaggio, which Clarkson described as being “a ride in itself” or by dedicated tram system, which will be zoo-themed and link Villaggio mall and the Aspire Zone to the zoo. There will also be an underground car park.
There are plans for a tree house hotel – an exclusive seven-star resort nestled in mature trees, with boardwalks throughout the tree canopy; a five-star rainforest hotel and a four-star Montane family resort. The zoo village, which will be open to the public, will feature architecture in line with Qatari heritage and culture and include themed cafes and restaurants to create a new, popular gathering place similar to Souq Waqif and Katara. 
Clarkson said Ashghal is planning to have the zoo to be up and running by 2020, and is expecting 1.3 million visitors to the village with around 950,000 to the zoo.
“We want to create a world-leading model for integrated nature conservation and visitor experience. It will be a unique and memorable attraction,” he added.
Meanwhile, Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) revealed plans to develop cultural tourism, offering tourists opportunity to “live like a Qatari” in days gone by. 
Maja Knezevic, Head of QMA’s Cultural Tourism Unit, spoke of developing heritage sites to keep alive bygone Qatari culture. Cultural tourism is a central part of Qatar’s National Tourism Strategy, inviting tourists to step back in history at historical and heritage sites as well as offering a line-up of museum, art galleries and attractions to visit.
The Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, listed as Unesco World Heritage Site last June, attracted over 10,000 visitors in January 2014. Other successful restorations include Barzan Towers, 19th century desert forts like Al Thaqab and Arakiyyat to Bronze Age sites such as purple-dye production site Jazirat Bin Ghanam and the rock craving of Jassassiya, castles and the fabled Al Wajba fort. Other projects include the old Fish Souq in Al Khor and four ancient Qatari villages, including the old pearl-diving village Al Mafyar, where visitors will be able to live as Qataris did, restored with modern amenities and facilities.