DUBAI // Municipality officials plan to introduce at least 11 new residential and neighbourhood parks next year.
The move has been welcomed by residents as a boost to leisure and family activities.
The Public Parks and Horticulture Department will increase the size of park area in the urban core of Dubai to 4 per cent of surface area, representing 12.5sq metres of green space per resident, said Ahmed Abdul Kareem, its director.
The department, which designs and manages all Government-owned public parks in Dubai, officially inaugurated seven parks in locations including Al Barsha, Muhaisnah, Abu Hail and Al Sufouh last month.
The increase and any subsequent facilities are much needed, said Reem Kabash while enjoying an afternoon out with his family at Mushrif Park in Deira.
"It's good to have a variety. That way everyone will find something they enjoy in the parks," said the 16-year-old student from Syria.
Her mother, 51-year-old Huda um Bashar, agreed, saying visits to the parks were a regular fixture with the family.
"We live in Sharjah but come here because of the abundance of greenery and mixture of people," she said.
That mix is just as important when it comes to design. Laith Wark, the director of Verdaus Landscape Architects, stressed the importance in ensuring all parks are fully accessible to the public and can stimulate economic activity.
"A great example is the park in Al Karama," he said. "Although maintenance is relatively low, it gets heavy community use. It doesn't have a fence, it's accessible by foot, restaurants overlook it and there are nearby supermarkets."
With an increase in green areas in general, he said, the city can also succeed in attracting a wider variety of skills sets.
"If a city provides an attractive quality of life it will in turn attract a good quality of expertise the city needs," said Mr Wark. "For example, Zabeel Park can be compared to New York's Central Park in terms of location, but how many people can go to Zabeel Park for a quick lunch or walk through it to or from work?"
At a cost of at least Dh200 million, Zabeel Park is said to be one of the municipality's most significant projects.
Mansoor Nasir, a 38-year-old retail manager from the US, was holidaying in Dubai and pointed out a few things the park has to offer. "It's a beautiful park and it is inexpensive," he said. "In the US we have some great parks too but not as clean or safe. Here people can walk, have a picnic, with no hassle."
Ghassan al Khedery, a project manager at Kling Consult, said any added park space would offer immeasurable benefits to the local ecosystem as well as the environment as a whole. His company specialises in architecture, landscape design and urban planning.
"Greenery has many advantages like ecological, environmental, commercial and visual," he said. "It is important for reducing global warming and balancing the carbon emissions, which are in fact very high in this part of the world.
"It also acts as a wind barrier to protect sand blowing down during windy seasons."
Such investments required extensive study and planning in landscape architecture, plant selection and horticulture practices, utilisations of available water and town planning, Mr al Khedery said.
Getting everything right pays off for the user. At Al Mamzar Beach Park during a breezy afternoon, Samir al Masri, a 30-year-old sales manager from Lebanon, was having a barbecue with friends near the beach, where they can be found almost every weekend.
"Parks are relaxing and the municipality has done a great job maintaining this one, which has everything," he said.