Thousands take in sights on opening day of revamped Mushrif Central Park

The official opening involved many fun-filled community celebrations for children and adults alike, including storytelling shows, kite making, sports, painting and singing.

A group of youngsters eagerly await getting their faces painted, which was just one of the many activities during a fun-filled opening weekend at Mushrif Central Park. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Thousands of people seized the opportunity to be among the first to visit Abu Dhabi’s greatly anticipated Dh179 million Mushrif Central Park on Friday.

The official opening involved many fun-filled community celebrations for children and adults alike, including storytelling shows, kite-making, sports, painting and singing.

Arnold and Caroline Bruto live nearby and were among the first to check out the upgraded facility.

“We live next to the park and now we have a mini zoo right across the street from where we live,” said Mrs Bruto. “Our four-year-old daughter is thrilled. We’ll be coming here a lot.”

Husband Arnold said: “It’s a really nice park. We didn’t get a chance to see it all because there is so much to see but we’ll be enjoying the activities today.

“We’re making kites, crafts and playing games and might catch one of the screenings of The Lion King in the open theatre. It’s exceeded our expectations.”

Frank and Sinead van der Hoeven were also keen to see what the park had to offer on opening day.

“I think that the park is absolutely beautiful,” said Mrs Van Der Hoeven. “It’s tranquillity in the middle of the city.

“I really liked the cactus garden and the rockery throughout. The donkeys were really cute. We also plan on coming tomorrow for the Ripe Food & Craft Market.”

The animal barn operated by Emirates Park Zoo was a big draw on opening day. It houses donkeys, ponies, alpine goats and camels, with camel rides taking place daily between 5pm and 9pm over the opening weekend.

Visitors also have the chance to ride horses, bottle-feed goats and see rabbits, tortoises, snakes and more on Saturday.

Most people were very pleased with what the park had to offer but some were disappointed that food and drinks were not allowed from outside the park and that there was a lack of shaded areas.

The park does, however, offer a range of eateries and food kiosks. In line with its holistic approach, Park Station is a unique cafe concept specialising in healthy and organic offerings.

Cafe manager Markus Abbas said: “We created a cosy, warm place with earthy-sourced furniture, plants and neutral earthy colours. We only serve healthy organic foods.

“We also have some organic brands of products that aren’t available elsewhere in the UAE.”

Popular Emirati food trucks Salt and Meelas were also present, although there was no word on whether they would be a permanent fixture in the park.

Abdul Aziz Husain Ahmed, the chief executive of Al Ain Properties, which helped to build the park, said: “We are proud to announce the reopening of Mushrif Central Park and introduce it to the Abu Dhabi community.

“The park’s design captures and honours the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s legacy of conservation and his love of nature. We hope that it will become a community hub for the entire Abu Dhabi community, just as the old park had been part of Abu Dhabi’s history and memory since 1982.”

The park is located on 15th Street between Airport Road and Karamah Street and is one of the largest and oldest parks in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to no outside food or drinks being allowed, neither are pets, bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades.

General admission is Dh5 per person with children under three allowed in free.

The opening weekend festivities end on Saturday, when the Ripe Food & Craft Market will be open from 4pm to 9pm, as it will every Saturday.

newsdesk@thenational.ae