When building a mall your main concern is attracting footfall, or shoppers, to your venue. In a city which has a mall with an indoor ski slope, another which is a journey through the world and even one which is shaped like an Egyptian pyramid, this can be a tall order. Perhaps you could have an olympic size ice skating rink? Perhaps be in the shadow of the world’s tallest building? A dancing fountain? A Bloomingdales? Two department stores? An Armani Cafe? Dubai Mall has all these; but that wasn’t enough. They decided to build an aquarium, which would have the world’s largest pane of glass and above it an underwater zoo.

An estimated 33,000 fish and other animals swim in a tank with a large glass tunnel through the middle. You can view the large aquarium window for free, and for a small charge walk through the tunnel and visit the upstairs zoo. Sharks and sting rays catch the attention of crowds, but the sheer number of beautiful fish in the environment is a sight for the eyes. Those with a taste for danger can choose to don a scuba outfit and have a guide take you for a swim in the water; those less adventurous can take a boat trip on the top.

The upstairs Underwater Zoo journeys through three eco-zones: rainforest, rocky shore and living ocean, and a total of 40+ aquatic displays. A recent new addition ‘King Croc’, a 5m long crocodile and his girlfriend. He’s on show with the normal display of Otters, Piranha, Humbolt Penguins, African Dwarf Crocodiles, Lionfish, Giant Spider Crabs, Seahorses, Garden Eels, Archerfish, Arapaima, Water Rats, Paddlefish, Cichlids, Nautilus and other animals.

The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo provides a welcome distraction from the endless amount of shops in Dubai Mall, and during the summer months a break from the heat of the mid-day sun. You can easily spend 2hrs in this area of the mall, probably longer with the kids enjoying the penguins.