x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Hanging gardens of Al Ain rise again

A victim of vandalism, the Paradise park was forced to close three months ago, but the beautiful gardens are once more in bloom and they are bigger, more spectacular and boast a Guinness world record 2,968 flower baskets.

The Al Ain Paradise Gardens set another Guinness world record for the most hanging flower baskets as it reopened to the public on Monday.
The Al Ain Paradise Gardens set another Guinness world record for the most hanging flower baskets as it reopened to the public on Monday.

AL AIN // The Garden City's Eiffel Tower is back in business, twinkling against the emirate's night sky after a three-month hiatus.

Vandalism forced the closure of the park last December after visitors picked flowers and left litter in the area.

Home to approximately 10 million flowers, the Al Ain Paradise park has more than doubled in size and was reopened to the public on Monday.

Now, visitors to the park are asked to not pick the flowers, stray from the pathways or litter. Offenders will be fined.

Amid much celebration - including a visit by the Ruler's Representative for the Eastern Region Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Mohammed, an adjudicator from the Guinness World Records, and a dancing troupe - the lights on the 12metre tall Eiffel Tower were switched on again, signalling the park's revival.

The park now holds the world record for the most hanging flower baskets (2,968) and represents the latest in landscaping and irrigation technology.

"We wanted to demonstrate that we have the ability to do this here in the UAE," said Abdelnasser Rahhal, the park's designer, and general manager of Akar Landscaping, the company behind the project.

"We have incorporated all modern landscaping methods and devised unique irrigation methods to keep the flowers in bloom for most of the year. This is a project that goes as an example to what parks, gardens and streets can look like."

The gardens originally opened in 2010 in a 7,000square-metre space on Nahyan Al Awal Street at the Zakher roundabout.

Soon after, it first achieved a Guinness world record for the most hanging flower baskets. At the time, there were 2,426 with plants imported from countries around the world, including Italy, Uganda, the US and Japan.

"Guinness never had a category for the most hanging flower baskets," said Jack Brockbank, a Guinness World Records adjudicator who presented Akar Landscaping with the Guinness certificate at the opening ceremony. "The category was created last year for this garden. It now has 2,968 baskets and officially holds the world record."

Visitors to the gardens enter the park for free and walk down a pathway flanked by the baskets leading to the Eiffel Tower.

That is where Al Ain Paradise ended when it closed three months ago. But now, with the increase in size to 21,000 square-metres there is much more to see.

"We built a seven metre tall pyramid of flowers, unlike any in the world," Mr Rahhal said. "We designed a unique system of irrigation for it.

This is not a pyramid of cut plants where we keep replacing the flowers every few days; these are actual plants that grow in their place. That was the real challenge. We submitted it for a new category with Guinness for three dimensional design. Guinness is studying it."

Passing the pyramid, further along the path, visitors walk below an arch of three, four-metre tall hearts that lead to a portrait of Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE. "Each of the hearts represents the different regions of the emirate of Abu Dhabi," the Akar Landscaping general manager said.

"One heart is for the city of Abu Dhabi itself, the second is for Al Ain representing the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi and the third is for Liwa in the Western Region.

"When people begin to walk through the three hearts, they see a portrait of Sheikh Khalifa which symbolises that he is in our hearts. His portrait is on a sailboat, the sail being the flag of the UAE. This symbolises that he is the captain of this nation."

ealghalib@thenational.ae