July 06, 2023
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Underwater Fun and Discoveries at Hamad Port Visitor's Centre

Hamad Port is Qatar's main commercial seaport for importing and exporting commodities that support the nation's economy; it's also one of the Middle East's largest ports. Amid this 21st-century world-class development, you can find the Hamad Port Visitor's Centre - a purpose-built venue to celebrate and showcase the port, its operational capacity and its influence on Qatar's development. It also houses Qatar's first and only aquarium!

Hamad Port Visitors Centre

Image: Mwani.com.qa

In the heart of the port, located south of Doha and near Mesaieed Industrial City, the visitor's centre's glass-fronted polyhedron shape is hard to miss. This maritime beacon, newly opened in 2023, is predominantly an educational centre designed to take visitors on a learning journey from Qatar's seafaring roots to today's multi-million dollar commercial trade hub. However, though the crux of the experience is to impart knowledge, the centre is also designed to keep you entertained, amused and astounded, starting with the spectacular and fascinating aquarium.

Aquarium

Image: Qatar Living

As you walk through Hamad Port Visitor Centre's low-lit aquarium tunnels of thick acrylic glass, surrounded by the blue hues of the watery world above, you can't help but be wonderstruck by the fisheye views normally reserved for gilled creatures. In the inky light, you are guided through the immersive aquariums with a plethora of local marine animals swimming all around you. In the longest tunnel, aptly named 'Predator Tank', you will be treated to close encounters with sharks, sting rays and oceanic fish. In particular, you can spot sleek reef sharks, coral-dwelling zebra sharks, wobbegongs, wide-mouthed groupers, spotted honeycomb stingrays and giant shovelnose rays. In the 'Coral Reef Tank', the centre's second largest watery underpass, you are treated to a more colourful display of marine life, including blue and yellow Arabian angelfish, neon-finned surgeonfish, bright blue tangs and red-tailed butterfly fish. If you get the opportunity, watching a feeding session in the aquarium tunnels is a fantastic experience.

The aquarium tunnels guide you to a central exhibition area, home to a host of other smaller tanks filled with moray eels, jellyfish, lobsters, oysters, cuttlefish, stonefish, puffer fish, frogfish, and bright orange and black clown fish - particularly loved by Finding Nemo fans! The central area includes comfy seating, allowing you to sit back and relax while observing the watery underworld, touch tanks for up close and personal experiences with friendlier sea creatures, such as starfish and rays, and plenty of information boards to tell you all about the wonders you can see. 

The aquarium is a truly memorable place to learn about the inhabitants and the diversity of the waters surrounding Qatar.

Maritime Museum

Image: Qatar Living

Hamad Port Visitor's Centre also houses a bright and airy maritime museum. The museum offers a fantastic insight into Qatar's seafaring heritage of local fishing, pearl diving and trade and its evolution to a Middle Eastern maritime hub for commercial cargo and container ships, naval ships, logistics and commerce. 

The museum's exhibits include interactive models and touch screen displays, and interactive simulators, such as the Giant Crane - where you can test your skills loading and unloading containers to waiting ships, and the Container Ship Docking simulator - where you can try your luck at guiding a ship safely into the docks. 

The museum is a fantastic venue to learn about local maritime history and aspects of commercial shipping, as well as the construction of Hamad Port. And with immersive and interactive elements, the museum is designed to appeal to all its visitors, from the youngest to the eldest.

4D Cinema and Auditorium

Another great attraction at the Visitor's Centre is the 4D cinema. The cinema shows films charting the development of Hamad Port, but it is no ordinary documentary showing. Incorporating 3D technology, a high-quality sound system, motion chairs and simulated physical effects, all synchronised with the film, showings are designed to captivate and immerse the senses to make you feel part of the feature. It's educational but, at the same time, an immersive and thrilling experience for all ages.

The centre also houses a 200-seat auditorium.

Gift Shop and Cafe

A small gift shop at the centre sells local crafts, sea crafts, nautical gifts, and souvenirs if you want to take something home to remind you of your day out. And a small cafe sells snacks and drinks to refresh and keep your energy levels up while exploring all the Visitor's Centre offers.

Outdoor Playground

Outside the Visitor's Centre is a large landscaped garden with grassy areas, shaded spots, benches and beautiful water features, perfect for taking in the port's surroundings. While adults can relax, admire the views, or set up a picnic, kids are well catered to in the outdoor playground. 

The covered playground features a ship-themed play structure with slides, climbing nets and walls and other interactive features, as well as slides, swings, roundabouts, spring riders, etc.

All in all, the Visitor's Centre, inside and out, will keep kids happy and entertained during your visit, and you and they will leave knowing so much more about Qatar, the surrounding seas and one of the Middle East's biggest ports!

Hamad Port Visitor’s Centre - Sneak Preview

For a sneak preview, check out the official Visitor’s Centre promo video: Hamad Port Visitors Center || مركز زوار ميناء حمد

The Nitty-Gritty

Location: Hamad Port Visitors Center (Aquarium + Museum) Umm El Houl, Hamad Port

Nearest Metro: N/A

Parking: Covered parking on-site

Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 8 am - 6 pm; Friday, 1 pm - 7 pm (online registration required)

Costs: QAR 50 12+ years

QAR 30 5 – 12 years

Under 5s visit for free

Contact: +974 4045 3005

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://visitorscenter.mwani.com.qa/

Instagram: @mwani.qatar

Main image: Mwani.com.qa

Published: June 03, 2023
Last updated: July 06, 2023
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