x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Tiptoe through the tulips ... in Abu Dhabi

Marina Mall has recreated a famous Austrian park, Volksgarten, much to the delight of expatriates who will not be able to escape the summer heat.

The Vienna Tourist Board has created a garden in Marina Mall for visitors in Abu Dhabi to experience the opportunity to see a live feed from Vienna's Volksgarten park.
The Vienna Tourist Board has created a garden in Marina Mall for visitors in Abu Dhabi to experience the opportunity to see a live feed from Vienna's Volksgarten park.

ABU DHABI // The fragrant flowerbeds and green expanses of one of Vienna's most popular parks were recreated in the capital yesterday.

A 100-metre replica of the Volksgarten - complete with real shrubbery and fresh tulips - delighted visitors to Marina Mall.

Designed by the Vienna Tourist Board, the park aims to attract GCC residents to the European country to escape the soaring summer heat in the UAE.

But the Volksgarten was also a huge hit with those who will not be able to travel.

"It's really nice because they let us experience what is in other places," said Wilreah Vejand, 29, a Filipina shop assistant. "If we cannot afford to go there, at least we can experience it in the mall."

Ms Vejand and most of her friends have not left the UAE in years, although her colleague, Cesar Tepasi, 37, visited his wife in Qatar last year.

"Same like this. But a small country," he said.

Women with babies, men with prayer beads and workers dressed in their Friday best posed before purple tulips and a large screen showing scenes filmed in the Volksgarten last week, including children playing football.

"It's just like a dream palace," said Suhail Siddiqui, 40, from India, who posed for photos with his wife and sons, aged 2 and 12.

"It's really very nice. Escaping everything is very nice. This summer we're having Ramadan so we'll not be leaving [the UAE]."

For many, a patch of plastic grass was like a piece of home.

"Flowers and green. This is same, same like this in Kerala," said Jafar Kannoth, 35, an office worker.

He posed for pictures with his sister, Ramla, his brother-in law Hussein, his niece Raihanath and his grand-nephew Abbay, 18 months.

"This is a great opportunity to take photos," Mr Kannoth said.

Tomorrow is the last day of the Volksgarten display.

Temperatures are expected to hit up to 40°C in the interior of the country this weekend, according to the National Centre of Meterology and Seismology.

azacharias@thenational.ae