Al Qana ... all four pedestrian bridges connecting both sides of the canal have been installed.

Abu Dhabi’s newest exciting waterfront destination, Al Qana, is on track to see construction completion by the end of this year, with some Dh1 billion ($272 million) having already been invested so far in creating this much-awaited social dining, entertainment and wellness space.

Being developed by Al Barakah International Investment, this iconic new addition to the emirate’s architectural and social fabric aims to offer exciting entertainment and waterfront dining, all in a landscaped open-air environment.

With 2.5 km of panoramic waterfront, Al Qana will offer local and international food and beverages (F&B) outlets, and a unique collection of attractions that will include state-of-the-art facilities. These include:

Al Qana will feature waterside eateries and a marina with more than 90 berths.

Al Qana will feature waterside eateries and a marina with more than 90 berths.

•  The first-of-its-kind lifestyle and wellness hub (The Bridge);

•  The largest standalone cinema in Abu Dhabi (Al Qana Cinema);

•  The region’s largest aquarium (The National Aquarium);

•  The first-to-the-UAE high-tech multiple-level virtual reality (VR) zone;

•  The state-of-the-art E-Sports arena;

•  A unique 4,000-sq-m kids’ entertainment and activity centre;

•  Waterside eateries and a marina with more than 90 berths.

Speaking to Gulf Construction, Fouad Mashal, CEO of Al Barakah International Investment, and the leader behind the project, says: “Destinations have been evolving over the past decade, people are now seeking places that offer adventure and rejuvenation. We have committed to delivering the UAE’s major new social dining, entertainment and wellness destination for residents and tourists.

“Al Qana will offer a world-class experience with modern and art-inspired architecture, one of the many factors that make this destination one-of-a-kind. Al Qana will also be a must-visit family destination providing both adventure and fun-filled memories within its seven different anchors.”

“Our dedicated team has been working around the clock to ensure progress against our timeline. The robust strategy we put in place is helping us achieve our construction milestones and completion by the end of 2020,” he adds.

Much progress has been achieved on the landmark project over the past year. Mashal says: “The project has a clear plan and timeline in place despite the pandemic. By following guidelines from the relevant authorities, we have also successfully maintained very high health and safety measures for our office and construction site workers.”

General Manager at Al Qana Stuart Gissing adds: “We have managed to adapt to the situation and found new modes of working to ensure that there is continuity for the project’s construction and operations management. Now, more than ever before, Al Qana will be relevant to the situation post-Covid 19 as people seek safe outdoor spaces and healthier lifestyle choices.”

Elaborating on the key progress milestones, he says all four pedestrian bridges connecting both sides of the canal – involving a total 2,200 tons of steel – have been installed and all basement parking facilities are now completed.

Gissing states that all major entertainment attractions have been leased to world-class operators and are being fitted out.  Also, key operations management team of international experts have been hired and are onboard.


The Bridge will feature seven seamless service tracks over a total area of 8,000 sq m.

The Bridge will feature seven seamless service tracks over a total area of 8,000 sq m.

The Bridge

This integrated lifestyle wellness hub has been carefully designed to be a disruptive space within its industry. The construction of the concept has commenced already and will open its doors for the first time in Q4 2020 to coincide with the grand opening of Al Qana.

The uniqueness of “The Bridge” concept comes from a combination of two ideas, according to Khalid Nahhas, Founder of The Bridge. The first is a space that bridges all aspects of one’s life, work, play and personal and physical development; and the second is the combination of science and art to deliver a superior design-driven intuitive experience, yet grounded in academic research and delivery of real results.

With a total area of over 8,000 sq m, The Bridge will feature seven unique and seamless service tracks (Move – Pause – Taste – Seek – Choose – Expand – Learn), combined into an ethereal and customised individual journey, that are spread across three floors and a roof garden lounge.  To support the development of the centre, over 150 world-class employees and experts are brought into the project to offer real impact.

Nahhas comments: “There’s a growing quest for wellness in our societies which is becoming a worldwide phenomenon and a big shift towards better lives. A cognisant and well-informed healthy community can lead in the powerful transformation of an entire city and empower its people to lead in vibrant and progressive self-fulfilling constructs. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness is now a $4.2-trillion industry.”

“Our partnership with Al Qana aims to bring to the capital a lifestyle destination that will deliver a customer experience that is no less than profound. The Bridge has been conceived as an architectural marvel that uniquely includes the essence of what inspires people to build their best selves. We have crafted each of the seven tracks from the best school of thoughts around the world to ensure we nurture the community,” he adds.


Al Qana Cinema ... some 80 per cent of the work is completed.

Al Qana Cinema ... some 80 per cent of the work is completed.

Al Qana Cinema

According to the developer, some 80 per cent of the work on the largest standalone cinema in Abu Dhabi is completed.

Al Qana will be home to the world’s first Cinemacity “CityMax” theatre, whose bespoke design will bring in the best picture and sound quality in the industry. The cinema will feature 15 screens, including the latest 26-m-wide screen, Abu Dhabi’s largest customised PLF (Premium Large Format) screen. The new entertainment hub will feature a dual RGB laser projector and Dolby Atmos surround sound.

The entire megaplex will seat over 2,000 people simultaneously across all theatres in multiple types of experiences and classes. The CityMax theatre will have the capacity to seat 386 people in a number of classes. This includes a seating section with full leather recliners and a Club class, with the comfort of butler service.

In addition, there will be three high-end VIP cinemas with dedicated private lounges, for exclusive screenings and premieres, all with full recliners and in-seat dining service. Cinemacity Al Qana will unveil a new concept with the exclusive ‘Presidential Theatre’, a luxurious lounge with high-end laser projection, Dolby Atmos and its own butler service.


The National Aquarium ... 90 per cent complete.

The National Aquarium ... 90 per cent complete.

The National Aquarium

More than 90 per cent of the work is completed on the Middle East’s largest aquarium, which will take a pioneering role in the region in protecting the emirate’s wildlife.

This follows an official agreement signed between the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and The National Aquarium to help create the largest and one of the most innovative schemes of its kind to protect and rehabilitate wildlife in Abu Dhabi. According to the agreement, both parties will be working closely together to conserve wildlife, specifically wild sea turtles, which will be rehabilitated within the aquarium.  Wild sea turtles are among the most highly migratory animals on the planet, and their numbers are a great reflection of the condition of marine environments. Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, two occur in Abu Dhabi’s waters.

Furthermore, the five-year contract outlines how The National Aquarium will support EAD with some of its ongoing wildlife conservation programmes. The National Aquarium will also work with the agency in further research studies and gathering of data.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD’s Secretary General, says: “We are delighted to initiate this rehabilitation project, in collaboration with The National Aquarium. Having such facilities within the confines of Abu Dhabi will assist our continuous efforts to preserve wildlife in the emirate. By collaborating with The National Aquarium, we will be able to rehabilitate various wildlife species before releasing them into their natural habitats, while expanding our scientific studies.”

 The National Aquarium will provide full veterinary treatment support and in-house care, as well as general animal husbandry expertise, until the animals are fully recovered before their release back into nature.

The National Aquarium General Manager Paul Hamilton says: “We want to create memorable moments for people to reconnect with nature. Our daily lives have become disconnected from the natural world and while we are slowly realising the impact that humans are having on the environment, there is still a long way to go to address these issues. That is why it is so important to reach new audiences and educate future generations about the importance of protecting and rehabilitating our wildlife and ecosystems.”

He adds: “We recognise the important role we must play with regards to education and the conservation of Abu Dhabi’s natural treasures. Hence, we have constructed specialised facilities.”