I am using this space to thank this profession called urban planning for bringing these very very old nature wonders to a desert jungle that is Riyadh. They are called trees, and, based on what I read, they have 350 million years of experience looking after our planet!
We, humans, have an intrinsic emotional need to connect with nature (also known as biophilia) and this has been repeatedly proven through studies such as “Health benefits of urban vegetation and green space: Research roundup”; “Environmental Benefits of Green Space–Project Evergreen”; “Health benefits of green spaces in the living environment: A systematic review of epidemiological studies”; and so forth. This is the reason why urban planning, which is a relatively new profession, has emerged from concerns about health and well-being through preventing illnesses and diseases that have something to do with substandard sanitation, exposure to different kinds of environmental pollution, and even overcrowding.
As the world’s concrete jungles continue to grow, pushing on valuing green space in the cities is imperative. But it should also be noted that there are certain parts of the world such as Riyadh or other cities in the Middle East where access to vegetated parks could be a challenge because the topography is predominantly desert. Cases like this make Riyadh worthy of a commendation for making its people (natives and expats alike) feel like there is no desert in the country through its already numerous nature parks.
To date, Saudi government added two megaprojects akin to intensifying its urban greening endeavors in the capital city through King Salman Park and Green Riyadh. These are two of the four initiatives complementing Vision 2030’s Quality of Life. Both of which had already kicked off in 2019.
King Salman Park will soon become the largest park in the world with over 5 square miles of land area and will fulfill the meaning of Al Riyadh which is “the green land”.
Green Riyadh, on the other hand, aims at enhancing the landscape of the city by planting 7.5 million trees around the main features and facilities particularly the main roads. “This will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality and will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network” (Arab News).
Long before the launching of said projects, there is already a place that won my heart when it comes to green spaces in the city. I have mentioned this in the blog post titled “Top 5 Tourist Attractions for Nature Lovers in Riyadh“—the King Abdulaziz Historical Centre’s (KAHC) Public Park. This place is located near Batha—a household name not only for expats but locals as well because of its gained popularity, and titles over the years such as “oldest commercial area in Riyadh”, “KSA’s downtown capital”, and a “home to expatriates in Riyadh”.
A visit to this KAHC is like hitting seven (7) birds in one stone. It is home to seven (7) tourist sites namely the National Museum, King Abdulaziz Public Library, King Abdulaziz Mosque, King Abdulaziz Auditorium, Al Murabba Palace, Darat Al-Malik Abdulaziz, and, the favorite, the Public Park, which is in close proximity to the National Museum and has a total area of about 20,000-30,000 m². That is, the majority of the Center’s area. This park is brimming with public utilities like mosques and walkways. It also surrounds the buildings with lush plant life and open spaces.
As can be gleaned from the kind of structures built in the centre, the whole area aims to promote the historical awareness of the Saudi Arabian lands while also illustrating its pertinence to Islam. Majority of the visitors would agree that the National Museum is the main attraction as the theme implies.
For me though, it is definitely the Public Park. My affinity to nature explains why. I am drawn to this place for its abundant trees. Kudos to the people behind their maintenance (the trees and the park as a whole). The park has remained as lush as the first time I saw it several years ago. I am referring to this particular area of the centre. You would know you are exactly in it if you see this water tower in front of you. (Click here for the map.)
I am quite so amazed by healthy trees in this Public Park. They are aesthetically pleasing because of the variations they create visually. The height, texture, and, most especially, color of the landscape here speak for that. The sound of different fowls flying from one trees to another not only create music to the ears but remind how alive and beautiful the world is in spite of its imperfections.
Being here is like being at my ideal comfort place: the beach! It is just so peaceful. Not even the sound of buses and cars passing by can disturb the feeling of quietude these flora emit while being under their caring canopy. They seem to absorb or block the noise pollution from whatever source. I also do not hesitate to freely breathe knowing that they can filter pollutants and fine particulates. I feel a lot better lazing or walking around—taking in this fleeting moment with nature in this park—than inside an air-conditioned room.
With these multitude of trees around, you could just imagine the cooling effect they can cast. It would be enough to soothe you and to make your stay worthwhile.
It is one thing to consider those benefits when visiting any urban nature park. Witnessing its beauty is another. Either way, paying a visit to it is surely a fruitful experience.
So from here on out, see to it that you include visiting this lushest, greenest park of Riyadh City or the nearest equivalent in your area in your routine to start appreciating these mundane wonders called urban trees and enjoy the benefits they bring.
#greenriyadh #kingsalmanpark #kingabdulazizhistoricalcentre #kingabdulazizhistoricalcenter
9 Reasons Why We Need to Plant More Trees in Our Cities (smartcitiesdive.com)
10 Reasons Why We Need to Plant More Tree (treesforcities.org)
11 Benefits of Street Trees in Urban Spaces (realince-foundry.com)
See how Saudi Arabia is making Riyadh green (gulfnews.com)
Riyadh Municipality: 596 parks and municipal squares in the capital (alriyadh.gov.sa)
15 Stunning Photos That Will Show You The Greener Parts Of Saudi (destinationksa.com)
Parking areas of Riyadh’s commercial centers, compounds set to go green (saudigazette.com.sa)