The Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre was opened on Monday in Al Ain Zoo by Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, deputy chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
“The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s strong connection with the desert contributed to the formation of his emotional and cultural heritage, and the [learning centre] reflects this unique relationship,” he said during the opening ceremony, which was organised under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Sheikh Hazza, accompanied by a number of ADEC members, was given a tour of Al Ain Zoo. He, in turn, thanked the Emirati staff’s contributions to the tourism industry.
The learning centre has five interactive galleries: Sheikh Zayed Tribute Hall, Abu Dhabi Desert Over Time, Abu Dhabi’s Living World, Looking to the Future and People of the Desert.
It has been described as the UAE’s first sustainable building and was the first to achieve a Five Pearl rating from Estidama and a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design platinum certification.
Al Ain Zoo director general Ghanim Al Hajeri has said that the philosophy of sustainability and conservation guided the project from its beginning, with 92 per cent of construction waste either recycled, reused or reduced.
The centre’s special design resulted in a 70 per cent reduction in heat absorption from the Sun, and a 50 per cent saving in energy and water usage.
“The centre will teach visitors the importance of sustainability and preserving resources,” Mr Al Hajeri said, adding that it “reflects the history of the desert environment and the human adaptation to this nature”.
“It is also an ideal model of environmentally-friendly buildings that use sustainable techniques.
“Al Ain Zoo has now achieved a unique position in modern interactive education, reaching out to visitors of all ages.”
Source: The National