Dubai’s parks are the emirate’s breathing space.
The UAE, in spite of its desert topography and dry climate, has beautiful and well-maintained public parks that offer a host of facilities. The directives of the Dubai Government to increase the number of green areas have provided an additional incentive to the Dubai Municipality to implement various plantation projects all over the emirate.
Dubai’s parks have turned out to be the emirate’s breathing space, besides being major tourist attractions. Says Ahmad Mohammad Abdul Karim, Director of Public Parks and Horticulture Department, Dubai Municipality, “Dubai now has a total recreational area of nearly 600 hectares with six public parks, 19 residential parks, eight landscapes, 32 community facilities (playgrounds) and two open beaches.
“More such facilities are under construction and will continue to be undertaken by the municipality in order to meet the needs of Dubai’s residents.” Currently the most popular parks include the Safa Park, Zabeel Park, Al Mamzar Park, Jumeirah Beach Park, Dubai Creek Park and Mushrif Park.
By 2010 the Municipality intends to build 16 parks. These will include Nadd Al Hamr, Leisili, Hatta-1, Hatta-2, Al Barsha-2, Mamzar-2, Al Quoz, Al Nahda, Mirdiff 2, Al Warqa-2, Al Barsha-2, Al-Barsha-3 and Nadd Al Buhaira Pond Park.
“Public parks are a very important amenity, particularly in a city such as Dubai where so many residents live in apartments and do not have access to a garden. With the introduction of running surfaces around the perimeter of Safa and Zabeel Park, many people have taken to walking or jogging around the parks. The area is safe from traffic and there is plenty of parking space. The provision of toilets in the park is also very helpful,’ says Graham Rafferty, coordinator of the Dubai Road Runners.
The Dubai Road Runners meet every Saturday at 6.30pm in Safa Park.
“We also have events in Creek Park and Mushrif Park. Both are very pleasant to run in. A special running surface is currently under construction in Mushrif Park. I really feel we need more parks in Dubai because the traffic is heavy here and people don’t want to travel far to reach a park,” says Rafferty.
In order to maintain the beauty of the parks, the Public Parks and Horticulture Department has set up special organisational units to take care of maintenance and horticultural activities.
From horticultural maintenance to developing sports services as per the requirements of park visitors to cleaning services and privatisation, these units are responsible for the daily upkeep of these public spaces.
Says Deborah Dixon, who runs the Stride for Life aerobic walking and running programme at Safa Park: “In Dubai people work very hard and spend a lot of time commuting to and from work. This can be a fun, fast-paced life, but it can also be very isolating and physically and emotionally draining. Being near nature and other people can be a powerful stress reliever and mood booster.”
The Safa Park, Dixon feels, is a fantastic space in the heart of Dubai. “It is large enough to feel as though one has escaped from the city for a while. The park has wonderful trees and gardens, lakes and children’s play areas. The landscaping is such that there are areas suitable for field sports as well as hills, which will improve your fitness levels. There are also basketball and tennis courts here. We meet regularly at Safa. The outside pavement has been rubberised to provide an excellent shock absorbent surface on which to walk and run.”
Sharjah is also set to have 10 more public parks as part of a Dh15 million project to revamp its public spaces. The project, under the guidance of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will also see the parks being used as venues for social events. The move aims at developing public park facilities, park expansions and landscape development.
In addition to its existing 35 parks, Sharjah Municipality is adding 10 new parks in the city, which will be fully equipped and designed to accommodate families and children.
Abu Dhabi also has several well-maintained parks, which reflect the commitment of the ruling family to the beautification of the city.
Most of the parks contain water features and children’s play areas.
The Abu Dhabi Municipality recently opened the Khalifa Park, a new recreational landmark in the UAE capital.
The 500,000-square-metre park can handle more than 5,000 people at a time. Its designs are inspired by Arabic and Islamic architecture and consist of various attractions, including gardens, party halls, a dedicated area for women and children with a swimming pool and an amphitheatre, all linked by a train.
The park’s museum traces the UAE’s history to the prehistoric era.
Parks of Dubai
Location: Mamzar residential area, on the extension of the corniche and Mamzar creek, neighbouring the main road that leads to Sharjah.
— Modern, well-equipped and air-conditioned chalets with special areas assigned for barbecue and recreation. Charges for the big chalet are Dh200 a day, while a small chalet costs Dh150 a day. There are 15 chalets, which have parking nearby. The chalets are not furnished for sleeping.
— Five separate beaches with changing rooms, sun beds, umbrellas, toilets, showers for beach swimmers and canteens. There are also lifeguards and safety buoys.
— Playgrounds for football, volleyball, basketball and tennis. There is also a special place for roller-skating. Beach visitors can use these facilities without any fees.
— 38 barbecue areas equipped with modern barbecue tools, umbrellas and benches.
— Large swimming pool with three recreational swimming areas for different age groups, wooden benches, umbrellas and sun beds in addition to changing rooms, showers and canteens.
— Children’s games and equipment such as slides and climbing bars, train and bike rides.
— A theatre that seats 10,000 people.
Location: Mushrif, Deira.
— 56 spots for barbecue and picnics. These are equipped with wooden shades, seats, modern grills and wooden toys.
— Separate swimming areas for men and women.
— Rotating horses, flying camels, children’s cars, circular train, recreational jumping apparatus, swings, slides, seesaw and climbing ropes for children.
— Tracks for sports enthusiasts and reserved ground for volleyball, football and basketball.
— Restaurant with air-conditioned game halls.
Location: Off Shaikh Zayed Road on Interchange 2.
— Grounds for football, volleyball and tennis and a set of physical fitness equipment.
— Peripheral jogging track with special running surface around the outside of the park.
— 21 barbecue areas equipped with modern barbecue tools, umbrellas and benches. More barbecue areas will be added soon.
— Children’s games and equipment such as slides and climbing bars, installed according to the latest international specifications. Visitors can enjoy swings, ride a train and rent bicycles.
— Electric cars, ferris wheel, traffic village, horse rides, boat rides and fun jumping. In addition, the park also has a labyrinth with foyer and corridors surrounded by fences and bushes with only one exit. Whoever enters the labyrinth shall find only one exit.
— Restaurant and games hall. There are three canteens spread across the park.
Jumeirah Beach Park
Location: In the residential area of Jumeirah, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and alongside Jumeirah Road.
— Rental sun beds and umbrellas at reasonable rates, with the park crew offering the necessary help.
— Safe swimming areas off the beach with safety buoys.
— Recreational facilities such as speedboats, banana boats, and parachutes.
— Two beach football courts and two beach volleyball courts.
— Two barbecue areas, each with seven barbecues, umbrellas and seats.
— Slides, skating tracks and other high-quality games enjoyable for children of different age groups.
— Large restaurant with an air-conditioned billiards court.
Creekside ParkLocation: Alongside Dubai Creek on the Bur Dubai side.
— Entertainment areas.
— Three helicopter pads.
— First-aid room and modern communication devices.
— Mini golf course, with 18 holes.
— Theatre area with capacity to hold around 400 people.
— Aflaj Heritage Village
— Children’s City and Snow World.
Location: Near World Trade Centre in the heart of Dubai in the Zabeel area. The park is divided into three sections — A, B and C.
Suspended pedestrian bridges and an internal train connect the three sections.
— Party area.
— Maze modelled on the solar system
— Lakeside restaurant complex.
— Exhibition building.
— Cricket ground.
— Open-air theatre.
— Separate areas for technology, sports and entertainment.
— Main theatre for celebrations and programmes as well as for establishments wanting to host international shows.
— Health club
— Star Gate, a project with an estimated cost of Dh220 million.
Five domes, partly underground, are linked via air-conditioned tunnels. The domes are Saturn, Moon, Earth, Mars and UFO. Each dome is dedicated to different types of entertaining scientific activities.