ABU DHABI // Transforming the desert into a green haven is no easy task, but Abu Dhabi officials say they are up to the challenge.
As part of an innovative plan, the city could have a dozen "pocket parks", 120 playgrounds and 40 per cent more greenery by 2014, the municipality's landscape expert said yesterday.
"We in the municipality know the experience of dealing with harsh environmental conditions," Abdul-Sattar al Mashhadani said at the Geosynthetics Middle East 2010 conference. "Everywhere you hear it, sustainability is the answer."
But the municipality's plan is not only rooted in aesthetics. Mr al Mashhadani said expanding the city's green areas meant cleaner air, more water recycling and savings.
"Our main limitations here are the scarcity of water sources and the severe climate," he said.
Implementation of the city's plan would mean the expansion of gardens and landscaping on streets, in addition to the rehabilitation of existing vegetation. More than 70 projects are already in the works at an estimated cost of Dh5.4 billion.
Mr al Mashhadani said 60 playgrounds were in the final design stage, with another 32 under construction. Five of the 12 proposed pocket parks have been completed.
One of the municipality's biggest undertakings, the Dh20 million Salam Street irrigation and landscaping project, is 50 per cent complete and should be done next year. In another landscaping project at al Bahya and al Taweelah, 400 new palm trees will be planted and 66,000 square metres of land turned into an expanse of green vegetation, flowers and ornamental trees.
Another municipality priority focuses on water conservation and water recycling. The plan calls for the construction of more reservoirs, pump stations and water treatment plants.
Fourteen per cent of Abu Dhabi's land area is covered with greenery, including date palms, trees and shrubs, lawns, flowers and ground cover.
Future development plans will hinge on working to find solutions to the difficult climate, Mr al Mashhadani said. Improving drainage and coming up with standard methods for dealing with sandy soil are priorities.