The UAE has hosted its first ever landscaping show – surprisingly in the rain – and also has several major landscaping projects underway, such the Holy Quran Park and unusual Dubai Frame.
Held in Dubai’s Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, the landscaping show involved landscapers, architects and designers representing 13 local and international companies. A growing expat community in Dubai is also driving local interest in gardening.
There are also several large-scale landscaping projects, such as the 64 hectare Holy Quran Park being built in Al Khawanee and due for completion by mid 2015. The park will include an Islamic garden, children’s play areas, an Umrah corner, outdoor theatre, fountains, a desert garden, palm oasis, lake, and fitness tracks. There will also be a 100m long air-conditioned tunnel designed to look like a man-made cave with displays of the many stories and miracles in the Quran plus a grand Andalusian-style entrance.
Hussain Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, says that the municipality hopes to make Dubai one of the greenest cities in the world, as well as use the park to explain the Quran’s concept of the environment.
A special feature will be the inclusion of 51 or the 54 plants mentioned in the Quran, such as pomegranate, olive, fig, onion, leek, barley, wheat, cucumbers, bananas and basil. The official list also includes corn, a surprising plant to be mentioned in the Quran as it comes from Central America which wasn’t ‘discovered’ by Europeans until the late 15th century.
Fifteen of the plants will need to be grown in a special climate-controlled greenhouse. The other 3 plants described in the Quran that will not be grown are those, like the zaqqoum, which only grow in heaven or hell, not on Earth. Apparently no horticulturists have volunteered to fetch one.
Another major park development is the unusual Dubai Frame being built in Zabeel Park. The frame is a 150m high open structure – literally like an open rectangular picture frame – and is intended to highlight the separate new and old areas of the city, providing a enclosing ‘viewing frame’. The project was the somewhat controversial winner of the ThyssenKrupp Elevator International Architecture Award in 2009 and is due for completion by the end of 2014. There will also be an elevator (not surprisingly) to take visitors to the top of the frame.