x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Five new parks open, 24 more in the pipeline

The capital already has about 20sq metres per capita of green and open space, more than double the international standard of 9sq metres set by the World Health Organisation.

At left, 12-year-old Ali al Qubaisi plays with his friends in a children's playground in Al Bateen, one of several new parks in Abu Dhabi.
At left, 12-year-old Ali al Qubaisi plays with his friends in a children's playground in Al Bateen, one of several new parks in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Five parks have been opened in the capital this week and 25 more are scheduled by the end of this year.

Four more neighbourhood reserves and 20 playgrounds are due to open this year as part of the plan to create about 25 square metres of open space for each person.

"We hope to see a very green Abu Dhabi in the future," said Rashid Al Falasi, the director of parks and recreation facilities at the municipality.

"These green areas beautify the city, are a benefit for visitors and tourists and are safe environments for kids to play."

The capital already has about 20sq metres per capita of green and open space, more than double the international standard of 9sq metres set by the World Health Organisation.

Increasing it to 25sq metres would put Abu Dhabi in the same league as London (27sq metres), and Delhi and Vancouver (22sq metres each).

The five new parks, developed at a cost of Dh21 million, include children's playgrounds, play spaces and shaded seating.

The smallest, at 1,750sq metres, is an example of the municipality's efforts to build parks in underserved residential areas.

The parks are in Al Bateen, Al Zaab, Al Rawdah and Al Karama. A sprawling 25,000sq metre park in Al Mushrif includes an area for skateboarding and a jogging track.

The aim is for no one in the capital to live more than 400 metres from a park.

About 20 per cent of the capital is covered in greenery, up from 14 per cent last year. Parks are just one part of the plans, said Mr Al Falasi.

More than 35 have been built since 2010. Of the total 120, half will be on Abu Dhabi Island and half on the mainland.

Trees, shrubbery and street landscaping will also be upgraded this year, as the municipality and the Urban Planning Council work to replace thirsty plants with other ground cover. Sports fields, unlike the parks, will have artificial grass.

"Grass obviously consumes a lot of water, so we can only use it in limited areas," Mr Al Falasi said.

"We can't say we are promoting green living if we are using water to build the green areas."

The parks' opening is part of Plantation Week, a series of activities and events hosted by the municipality to increase awareness about sustainability, conservation and green living.

Susan Talbot, an American who took her daughter Lily, 6, to the Plantation Week activities at Khalifa Park this week, is looking forward to more parks but is unsure how much use they will get.

"When the weather is nice we like to be outside," Ms Talbot said. "But it's just too hot most of the time to go to a park."

Four neighbourhood parks will open this year in Mohammed Bin Zayed City, Shahama and Al Adla.

jthomas@thenational.ae