ABU DHABI // More than 250 trees in Mushrif Park have been dug up and preserved as part of a sweeping redevelopment of the green belt.
The 14-hectare park on 15th Street, between Airport Road and Karamah Street, has been the heart of the capital for more than three decades.
Construction, which is expected to be completed by early 2015, is already in full swing.
The renamed Mushrif Central Park will feature many new attractions and facilities, including an interactive children’s museum and petting zoo.
Water features and fountains will be included, as well as more than three kilometres of walking and jogging trails.
The privately-owned park is being developed by Al Ain Properties, a wing of Al Ain Holding, as “a place for the entire community”.
“Connecting communities through the environment and landscape is central to the park’s design and reflects the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed,” said Abdul Aziz
Husain Ahmed, chief executive of Al Ain Properties.
The park is be redeveloped according to sustainable standards and will include playgrounds, quiet zones for older people, a botanical garden and a performing arts centre.
The 250 mature trees on the property, which will be uprooted and replanted, will be joined by an additional 1,000 trees and plants once the redevelopment is complete.
According to Al Ain Properties: “Sustainability is also a key focus of the park’s design with plans already in place to ensure that over 250 existing broad leaf and palm trees, that are more than 25 years old, will be removed from the site, stored and replanted in the redeveloped park.”
Neighbourhood residents had been concerned that although the park is vast, it lacked facilities.
Hassaan Hasan, who has lived in the area for seven years, said his family visited the park once or twice a week.
“I appreciate the move to redevelop the park and provide good facilities to the residents,” he said, adding he was pleased that more activity options would be added.
“The park remained almost deserted without any proper facility and safety for children for a long time. Sometimes they get hurt while playing there.”
Essa Abdullatif, an Emirati resident, said it would be nice if the parks were equipped with cafeterias and restaurants to sit and chat.
“Now the weather is too hot to stand outside for a while,” he said. “It’s been a very pleasant place, particularly in winters, to have shade from trees and spend time with kids here.”
He said he used to take his six-year-old daughter to the park weekly.
“For a few months, we did not have access to the park as we were told that some construction work was going on. I have to hope that it’s going to be a very nice place,” Mr Abdullatif said.
Al Ain Properties was appointed by Abu Dhabi Municipality as the developer, according to its website. The building contract was awarded to Dhabi Contracting LLC with site work expected to be completed in 22 months.
The Urban Planning Council and the municipality said they were not involved in the redevelopment of the park.
Abeer Abdal Fattah, from Jordan, has lived in the neighbourhood for 36 years and visited the park when she was a child.
“My memories are attached with this park. It used to be our favourite place, because in my childhood there were only a few places to go around,” she said. “My father took me to this park every weekend and now I bring my children here.
“All the time my sister joined me here and we played together with other relatives and family friends.”
Mr Ahmed said the new park will live up to old memories. “We are determined to make this project a unique community environment, offering an inspired recreational facility for all the people of Abu Dhabi,” he said.