Activities for families and fitness buffs at Umm Al Emarat Park this winter

A petting zoo, an al fresco cinema, meditation sessions and home-grown vendors are all on the cards

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Being outdoors has scores of benefits for our physical and mental health, both for adults and children. One of the capital’s most-loved green spaces, Umm Al Emarat Park — which turns 40 this year — is celebrating the winter months with a flurry of activity, from family-friendly events to fitness-focused sessions.

The Park Market, which launched last Friday, is ongoing until March 18, from 4pm to 11pm, and promises a fun-filled evening for all age groups.

Those with children can make a beeline for the ever-popular petting zoo, where the little ones can interact with rabbits, ponies, pygmy goats, llamas, emus and camels. The pets can only be fed park-approved food, so this is also a good teaching opportunity to develop empathy among little ones for our animal friends.

The petting zoo at Umm Al Emarat Park. Victor Besa / The National

Elsewhere, children can enjoy the open-air cinema on a grassy stretch, complete with popcorn. Cinema in the Park will screen child-friendly films every Friday and Saturday at 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

Other activities include bubble and slime stations, kite flying, arts and crafts counters, storytelling sessions, magic and clown shows, live performances and roaming entertainers.

Fitness fiends can make the most of the park’s dedicated walking trails and jogging tracks, while those looking to further their meditation skills can sign up for sessions conducted by Inner Space. These free-to-attend classes will take place in the Evening Garden at 6.30pm every Thursday until December 29 (except on December 1).

The sessions are alternately conducted in Arabic and English, with the next one, on Thursday, taking place in Arabic. Slots are limited to 15 people and pre-booking is required.

Those who simply fancy wandering about can browse the wares offered by local retailers.

Aldhara fresh food market at Umm Al Emarat Park. Victor Besa / The National

Sustainability is on the agenda at Umm Al Emarat Park, which prioritises handmade produce by home-grown vendors. On offer are flea-market-style accessory stalls selling resin art candles, abayas, crocheted items, silverware, customised hats and bags, skincare products, perfumes and faux but fashionable antiques. The park will also host a rotating gallery of artists.

Rasha Kablawi, head of Umm Al Emarat Park’s corporate affairs and communication department, says: “We are looking forward to embracing the community around us to create a collaborative atmosphere to support local SMEs, empower women and build bonds between people … with plenty of entertainment for all the family.”

Pre-book the Inner Space sessions via WhatsApp on 050 795 2519. For more information, visit

Updated: November 14, 2022, 1:44 PM