Dubai: Santa’s busiest time of the year is finally here, but before he went to deliver presents to girls and boys around the world, he was spotted swimming with sharks and stingrays inside an aquarium at a mall in Dubai.
With an oxygen tank on his back, the legendary jolly, white-bearded man, also known as Father Christmas, was wearing his usual red coat, with white fur collar and cuffs; red trousers with black leather belt, and red hat. But instead of boots, he had flippers.
Instead of saying his trademark ‘ho-ho-ho’, he was seen blowing kisses and bubbles. There were also no Dasher and Dancer; Prancer and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and the famous red-nosed reindeer Rudolph, but there were sharks and ‘smiling’ stingrays, plus thousands of aquatic animals from hundreds of marine species inside the ten-million litre Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo at Dubai Mall.
Kabayan Santa diver
Filipino diver Francis Uy, 44, who works at the Dubai Aquarium, shared a one-minute and 15-second video with Gulf News, showing his kabayan (compatriot) from Mindanao, Julius Madrid Ramos, playing the role of Santa diver.
Uy said they have been doing the ‘Santa diver gig’ at Dubai Aquarium every year not only to bring joy and cheer on Christmas Day, but also to educate and promote environmental awareness.
“We want to deliver a bit of holiday cheer and also promote environmental education, protection and marine life conservation. We want to show how humans should interact with animals and marine species — and with utmost care,” Uy said. The ten-million-litre Dubai Aquarium tank, located at the ground level of Dubai Mall, is one of the largest suspended aquariums in the world. It houses thousands of aquatic creatures, comprising more than 140 species. Over 300 sharks and stingrays live in the tank, including one of the largest collections of sand tiger sharks in the world.