x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Playgrounds for every neighbourhood

More than 120 playgrounds and 12 parks will be constructed in the capital this year.

ABU DHABI // Dozens of playgrounds are under development in the capital, and at least one is probably coming to your neighbourhood.

More than 120 playgrounds and a dozen parks are expected to open this year as the municipality steps up efforts to beautify the city and increase recreational spaces.

The locations of the public spaces, which could include amenities such as benches, jogging paths and shade umbrellas, were chosen so parks would be no more than 400 metres apart.

"They were designed to be small and safe parks for families and children inside residential districts but also to offer a recreational atmosphere," said Ahmed al Muraikhi, the director of parks and recreation facilities at the municipality. "We wanted to provide an escape for families and children and make safe parks within a reachable distance to all residential areas."

More than 60 playgrounds, which have modern play equipment, slides and swings, are in the final design phase. These areas will be fenced in or surrounded by shrubbery to make the play area safer and easier for parents to monitor.

Intended to be attractive to tourists and residents, the Dh21 million park development project should be completed by the end of the year.

Five "pocket" parks - small neighbourhood parks, rather than large urban parks - totalling more than 61,000 square metres, have already been completed. Another five, at more than 38,500 square metres, are expected to be open to the public by mid-year.

More than 30 of the parks will be designated as sport and game venues for children ages 3 to 14. These parks will be outfitted with rubber flooring, sunshades and sport equipment.

Abdullah al Shamsi, the acting executive director of municipal infrastructure and assets, said the sport facilities were designed using the highest safety, security and health standards.

"In addition, the project is also important in so far as it improves the general appearance of the city as well," Mr al Shamsi said.

A major revitalisation of Mushrif Park is also und'er way. Expected to be completed this year, the 14-hectare community park will feature a children's museum, botanical gardens, meeting facilities and a petting zoo.

All of the park projects will incorporate sustainable elements aimed at increasing the capital's green space. At Mushrif Park, more than 250 existing broadleaf and palm trees more than 25 years old are being removed from the site, stored and replanted in the redeveloped park. When completed, more than 10 per cent of the overall park will be re-vegetated with indigenous and naturalised species.

Currently, 14 per cent of Abu Dhabi's land area is covered with greenery, which includes date palms, trees and shrubs, lawns, flowers and ground cover.

jthomas@thenational.ae