Whether you’re a stroller or a jogger, or just want to relax with a good book and the breeze in your hair, Dubai’s green spaces have you covered.
Time Out picks 20 of the best
By Luke Wilson23 January 2017
For Dubai’s earliest settlers, the idea of having a patch of grass to sprawl out on must have seemed about as alien as pounding down a motorway in a Lamborghini.
But as the sands of time have passed, more and more parks have sprung up across the city like little oases in the desert, bringing with them an array of activities to keep residents from all walks of life happy.
Jarvis Cocker might have once sang “My favourite parks are car parks”, but on this occasion, we’d have to disagree with the Pulp frontman. Welcome to Green Dubai.
One of the city’s oldest green spaces, this small but perfectly formed park has been serving the people of Satwa since the late 1980s. A couple of years ago it was given a complete transformation to make it the first spot of its kind in the UAE to be completely solar-powered, or in ecological speak, “zero-energy”. Thankfully, the iconic water tower survived the makeover and the park now boasts the rather charming Inn The Park, which serves good coffee and healthy breakfasts and snacks. It’s popular with families for picnics and kids’ parties, and entry is free. Free. Open Sat-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11pm.
Many visitors to this sizeable space make a beeline for the Dubai Dolphinarium to admire those most majestic of mammals, but there’s much more to Creek Park than aquatic acrobatics. Firstly, there’s the cable car – a 2.3km route that gives you a bird’s-eye view of this relaxing retreat from 30m in the sky. Then there’s Children’s City – the UAE’s first edutainment attraction of its kind, where youngsters can interactively explore more about the world around them. However, you certainly shouldn’t overlook the botanical gardens and rolling lawns that are perfect for a twilight stroll. But if you fancy things a bit faster-paced, test out your racing skills with a few laps round the go-kart track. Dhs5. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat 8am-11pm.
If you’re on a shopping spree in Deira and fancy a little respite, we suggest you head here and rest those tired feet for a while. Having opened in 2012 as part of the Dhs26.8 million Port Saeed Plaza project, this small community square is abundant with flowerbeds making it a pretty place to relax as the hustle and bustle continues all around you. There are plenty of benches to eat your packed lunch upon, along with a 400m running track on which you can jog or power walk it off. Don’t be put off by the large list of park rules, though, just make sure you leave the bike and barbecue at home. Free. Open daily 24 hours.
At just Dhs5 to enter, this vast expanse is a total bargain, and one that bundles of Dubaians are more than happy to shell out for. The Gulf region’s first technology-themed park strikes the perfect balance between fun and education and at 47.5 hectares, it’s certainly big enough to cater for the swathes of families who descend here during peak leisure times. Along with a wide range of sporting activities on offer, including a full-size cricket ground, you can head up the Panoramic Tower for a great view of the surrounding area, catch an IMAX film at Mega Bowl or visit the wholly unique Dubai Garden Glow. We also love hiring a boat and doing our best Jack Sparrow impression (bizarre “Cockney” accent not compulsory). Dhs5. Open Sat-Wed 8am-10pm; Thu-Fri 8am-11pm.
Just at the meeting point of Al Khail and Al Meydan roads, this park’s location would leave more to be desired if it didn’t provide a serene urban oasis-style setting. It might not quite have the facilities of other green spaces vying for your affection, but fitness fans like it for its pond-side cushioned running track and range of outdoor gym equipment. Softball players will also be in their element here, with the park arguably being most notable as the home of Dubai Little League, the three well-kept diamonds being the ideal platform from which to pitch that perfect game. The multiple shady spots also make for a great al fresco spot to enjoy with all the family. Free. Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11.30pm.
This 50-acre site has something to offer everyone. Set around the edge of a pretty, manmade lake, you’ll spot plenty of joggers on the running track here. Sporty types can also take advantage of the handful of basketball courts and football pitches that are home to several community leagues, as well as the outdoor gym. Along with an outlet of Park House and a stand selling potato-based treats, the park also hosts the Ripe Night Market in the cooler months. Free. Open Sat-Wed 8am-11pm, Thu-Fri 8am-11.30pm.
The locals of Bay Avenue have really embraced this 100,000 square foot space since it opened for business in 2014. Standing in the shadow of the mall, the park is popular with families given that parents can have a chinwag while their little angels run amok in the playground or on the trampoline. Skaters are warmly welcomed, especially given the skate park is free to use, while keep-fit fans love the jogging track and well-equipped outdoor gym. If that isn’t enough to get your teeth into, you should head over on a Friday to the weekly farmers’ market and grab some organic produce. Free. Open daily 10am-midnight.
When it’s not hosting weddings, banquets, corporate events and food festivals, this little strip proves a big attraction for tourists hoping for a verdant viewpoint of the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and Dubai Opera. Dog-walkers are also drawn here, especially given that there are no restrictions on where your pooch can roam – as long as you clear up after them, of course. Now slightly overshadowed by the neighbouring opera house, Burj Park is a space you shouldn’t forget about if you’re in Downtown. And although there are no real facilities here, you can still hire a bike if you fancy exploring on two wheels. Free. Open daily 6.30am-8pm.
Residents on the Palm were delighted when Dubai marked the 41st anniversary of the UAE by opening this 1.1million square-foot space in 2012. Although largely the domain of joggers thanks to the 3.2km track that runs through it, this linear park is also of huge interest to the green-fingered folk of Dubai, given that it’s home to more than 60 varieties of plants indigenous to the UAE’s deserts, wadis, mountains and coastal areas. Each example is labelled, meaning you can easily learn more about the nation’s natural history. If you take the car, parking is even more abundant than the plant life. Free. Open daily 24 hours.
One of dozens of green spaces dotted through Jumeirah Village Circle, Gadaf community park is a quaint green space that will serve the residents of the four Diamond Views buildings and others nearby, very well. It’s not the most picturesque on our list, but it does have a running track, and since rollerblading, skateboarding and cycling are not permitted, it’s great for those who prefer to run outdoors rather than on a treadmill. Residents spend time here with their families at weekends, supervising their little ones in the children’s play area. Pets must be left at home, though. While away a day here if you live nearby. Free. Open daily 7am-10pm.
Few parks start their lives as a lake, but after the powers that be decided JLT had too much blue and not enough green, the lake was filled in and this family-friendly haven sprouted up. Lying on the grass and gazing up at the sky as the odd cloud rolls by is a favourite pastime here, and the kids are at their happiest when they can kick a ball around or have a go on the mini funfair that comes along in the winter. And the community really comes together when the JLT Outdoor Cinema season kicks in. They might even let you share their popcorn. Free. Open daily 24 hours.
Okay, so this isn’t technically the place’s name, but we think it sounds a lot nicer than the “Calisthenics Park” moniker suggested by Google. If you’re not into the Muscle Beach-style activities the workout area offers, grab a good book and while away a few hours lying on the grass bank or chatting to the plethora of dog-walkers who frequent this little spot of greenery just up the road from Skydive Dubai. It’s a really lovely spot to watch the yachts coming in and out as you dream of owning one yourself. Free. Open daily 24 hours.
Tranquil and small, in comparison to its big brother up Sheikh Zayed Road at least, you might struggle to find signposts for this place, but once there, it’s easy-peasy to grab a parking spot. And when you set foot inside, you’ll certainly be impressed by the park’s cleanliness and how lovingly manicured the floral displays are. Hugely popular with mums and toddlers, especially on weekday mornings when the park is real haven of calm, there are plenty of picnic tables to enjoy your packed lunch on. And with its football, basketball and volleyball areas, you can also shed a few of those calories you’ve just consumed. Dhs3. Open daily 8am-11pm.
This park might not be the biggest, or most well-known, in the city, but what it lacks in size and popularity, it more than makes up for in comfort. Beautifully maintained, the kids will have a whale of a time messing about in one of the playgrounds and once they’ve run out of energy, they can rejoin the clan and graze on sandwiches in one of the plentiful shady picnic spots. There’s a full-size basketball court for all those wannabe Kobe Bryants, while the five-a-side football pitch is perfect for a kickabout with your pals. And with views of Media City’s skyline to one side and the Burj Al Arab to the other, this is also a great spot to come and dreamily stare into space as the world rushes by. Free. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10pm; Thu-Sat 8am-11pm.
Predominantly known for its amphitheatre that hosts food and music festivals, attracting some of the world’s top acts (and Travis), there is much more to this park than meets the eye. When the fences, grandstands and snack bars are all packed away, this is actually a really pleasant place to hang out. A large lake is the focal point here and during the week, the variously dishevelled Media City folk like to grab a bench and munch away at their lunch. At weekends, when the journalists have returned to their hack caves, the park is wonderfully peaceful and with several restaurants nearby so you won’t go hungry. Free. Open daily 24 hours.
Despite being downsized for the arrival of the Dubai Water Canal, the green space off Sheikh Zayed Road remains one of the most popular in the city. On any given day you’ll find groups of families, teenagers, joggers, rollerbladers, yoga enthusiasts, kite-flyers and nature-lovers all enjoying the leafy environs. Predominately taken up by manicured lawns, the park is also home to about 200 species of birds and more than 16,000 varieties of trees and bushes. Dhs3. Open Sun-Wed 8am-10pm; Thu-Sat 8am-11pm.
It might not be one of the biggest parks in Dubai but it certainly has one of the best locations. With the Burj Al-Arab towering above it and the gorgeous seascape of the Gulf viewable throughout you’ll be glad you decided to head here for a lazy afternoon. This is definitely one for families with young children given that so much of the space is given over to play areas, including some rather natty toddler swings. If all that play time has left you a little parched you can head to the Rest N Café for some refreshments. Oh, and it has its own little beach, too. Free. Open daily 8am-10pm.
If you fancy escaping the comfy environs of primetime Dubai, we suggest you load the car with grub and head up to this gorgeous setting that provides a wonderful juxtaposition of park and beach. For those who don’t like getting sand in their sarnies, secure a spot on one of the lawns and lay out that picnic blanket, or alternatively nab a barbecue stand (there are more than 25 of them). But if you want to feel the sun on your back and the sand under your feet, Al Mamzar has not one but four beaches for you to unwind upon. When your lazyitis has worn off, you can always shoot some hoops or play some footie or volleyball. Best visited in the morning, before the hordes arrive. Dhs30 per car, Dhs5 per person. Open daily 8am-10pm.
Not to be confused with the recently rebranded Abu Dhabi park that bore the same name (make sure your sat-nav gets it right), this Al Khawaneej Road venue is notable for several things, not the least the replica models of traditional houses from the Arabic and Western worlds that can be found in its International Village. Although not as green as other such spots in Dubai, this desert park has plenty to offer families thanks to the swimming pool, barbecue areas, playgrounds, sports courts, camel and pony riding and the Mushrif Equestrian Centre. Add to that the recently opened Aventura adventure park and you’ve got a fun day out for everyone. Dhs10 per car, Dhs3 per person. Open Sun-Wed, 8am-10pm, Thu-Sat, 8am-11pm.
Primarily the domain of the city’s avid cyclists thanks to the nearby 4km, 6km and 8km cycle tracks, Nad Al Sheba also has a rather cute park nestled among its villas. Even on a Friday afternoon it’s pretty tranquil and you’ll be thankful you left the noise of the busy city behind as you sprawl out on the lawn. There might not be much in the way of facilities here, although it does have a running track, but if you make your own lunch you can sit and listen to the birds chirping away. In a few years, Nad Al Sheba will be home to a massive shopping mall and residential development so enjoy the seclusion of this park while you can. Free. Open daily 24 hours.