ABU DHABI // The municipality will spend up to Dh20 million (US$5.4m) on landscape improvements for 223 mosques over the next two years in response to community demand for improved prayer grounds, the head of planning for parks said yesterday. The mosques inside and outside Abu Dhabi Island earmarked for the improvements represent about half of the 555 mosques covered in a recent landscaping study.
The remaining mosques are either under construction, have no open areas that can be landscaped or are managed by private companies or other government entities. "Before, we received many suggestions from people to have some beautification of landscapes around the mosques in Abu Dhabi," said Ahmed al Muraikhi, the director of parks and recreational areas. "So it's come this idea to do it with a combination of soft and hard landscape."
The soft-landscaping work, he said, "includes trees, flowers, grass, and the hard-landscaping will be like tiles or any kind of aggregate". The work, which is being coordinated with the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year, covering 96 mosques within the city centre, Mr al Muraikhi said. A second phase, to begin in 2012, would cover another 127 mosques outside the island and on the roads to Al Ain and Dubai.
Mr al Muraikhi said that maintenance and installation of irrigation networks, pumps, soil-drainage works and tanks will be included in the improvements. Annual maintenance costs are expected to be around Dh3 million (US$810,000) per year. In a press release issued by the municipality, Mr al Muraikhi said the project was meant to ensure all residents can pray in peaceful surroundings and that the holiness of the landmarks called for comfortable environments.
"Plantation and forestation of areas surrounding Abu Dhabi mosques commands the attention of the municipality," he said in the statement. "Likewise, other achievements made to maintain the urbanized and aesthetic appearance of Abu Dhabi [should] meet the ambitions and expectations of the entire community." The municipality has also planned seven new gardens as part of plans to "green" the emirate. The gardens will be in in the Al Bateen, Al Mushraf, Al Za'ab, Al Rawda and Al Nahyan neighbourhoods.