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Mushrif Central Park is reopening following a two-year, AED 179 million renovation. Abu Dhabi Week was the first magazine invited for a sneak preview – join us for a tour…

Mushrif Park first opened its gates to women and children in 1982. Now, 32 years later, it is throwing them open to all as it reopens as Mushrif Central Park.

As well as a farm and weekly food and craft market, it will have a stream and fountains to paddle in, scavenger hunts and a book club – and did we mention the outdoor film screenings, poetry readings and cultural shows at an amphitheatre?

The official opening day on Friday 20th March will be celebrated with free entry and a range of family-friendly activities including kite-making, storytelling and a drum circle from noon to 6pm.

We don’t want to spoil the surprise, but if you can’t wait till then, or miss the opening day, then find out what else you can expect…

1 Entrance

Fountains lined with palm trees greet you at the entrance. To the right of the entrance gate is a café called The Park Station, and to the left is an exhibition space. The space has floor to ceiling windows so it brims with natural light – making it ideal for kid’s workshops and art exhibitions. Charities will be able to rent it out for free. One of the walls is a ‘living’ wall – plants appear to grow out of it, attracting birds.


2 Wisdom garden

Just ahead of the entrance you’ll spot this memorial to Sheikh Zayed, which has memorable quotes from the UAE’s founding father carved in Arabic into black granite. A waterfall streams over the quotes into a pond which features stepping stones in geometric patterns.

3 Amphitheatre

A lawn on the right of the park is a designated picnic spot. Beyond that, behind the entrance, is a stage and dressing rooms. Along with a field the size of three football pitches – which fits 2,500 when standing – they make up an open-air amphitheatre, which is all set for cultural and musical performances.

4 Great Lawn

If you think the amphitheatre field is big, it’s nothing compared to the Great Lawn. There’s enough space for team sports, lawn games and flying a kite. Don’t have one? Then make one – kite-making classes are planned. Barbeques and shisha are not allowed.

5 Evening Garden

If you follow the promenade to the left of the entrance, you’ll come to an area known as the Evening Garden, which is designed as a space for older members of the community – or anyone who wants a bit of peace and quiet. Poetry readings and a book club are planned, and the park can provide tables and chairs for a small fee should you want to host an event.


6 Promenade

This 460m path is lined with palm trees and stretches the length of the park. A stream decorated with copper fish runs through the middle, and children can hunt for patterns inspired by the UAE’s heritage on the pavement – think dates and coffee beans carved into the slabs. There are no steps, so it’s suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

7 Ripe market

Turning right at the entrance, if you follow the promenade to the end you’ll come to Ripe, a food and craft market every Saturday 4pm-9pm. Here you can browse for organic goodies, artisanal jewellery and natural beauty products, just like the market at The Collection on Saadiyat Island. The first market will be held on Saturday 21st March.


8 Friends of the Park Pavilion

A flower garden faces this pavilion, which is made up of three connecting rooms that are suitable for meetings, seminars and parties. A waterfall flows from the terrace into a garden near the flowerbeds.

9 Kid’s play areas

There are two playgrounds; north and south. The north one, close to the entrance and to the left of the Wisdom Garden, is designed for young kids, with a sandy floor and climbing nets. Older children can play in the south one, to the left of the amphitheatre.


10 Botanical garden and Shadehouse

Over 250 native species have been planted around a pond in this shady spot, which is dwarfed by a 48m high structure known as the Shadehouse. The steel complex has angled slats rather than walls, which means it’s naturally shaded and ventilated – you’ll notice a 5° drop in temperature as soon as you enter. Inside, a boardwalk zig zags past benches nestled in a collection of young, mostly local plants. If you have the energy, take the stairs to one of two viewing platforms; the highest of which has views of a nearby palace and mosque, and World Trade Center Mall and Hodariyat Bridge in the distance. Too hot? Then you could just take the lift…


11 Children’s pavilion

The shaded, grassy area close to Ripe is designed for children, who will enjoy playing in a fountain and cooling off in a wadi, or riverbed. The park has teamed up with Emirates Park Zoo so it can home animals in Animal Barn – 12 camels, ponies, cows, donkeys, goats and rabbits will be rotated so there will always be someone new to meet. Kids will love stroking the animals and learning about them in regular educational talks – topics coming up include animals native to the UAE and the life of a camel.

12 Outdoor film lawn

A lawn the size of a football field is just a hop, skip and jump away from the children’s pavilion. It’s designed as an outdoor cinema which will show family-friendly films.


13 Flower Garden

On the far side of the Evening Garden is a beautiful flower garden that bursts with pink, red and white bougainvillea that have been planted in rows like the layers of a rainbow. Benches are nestled within the flowerbeds so you can sit and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

Be at ommm with nature

At 6pm on 21st March Sasha Quince from Let’s Go Yoga will host a free yoga class outdoors behind Ripe. Contact: 050 349 2336 [email protected] www.letsgoyogame.com


Sarah Riches



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