Municipality of Abu Dhabi City (ADM) has an extensive agenda which aims at making Abu Dhabi a modern capital city, and it is a priority to create an ideal living environment for city residents, with unmatched quality of life and modern amenities.
ADM, has since its inception, developed a number of key objectives, notably the implementation of projects aimed at establishing modern infrastructure for the city including bridges, drainage systems, road networks, modern means of transportation, consolidation of comprehensive development projects. It has also simultaneously been moving towards attaining the goals set out by the development plans.
We have spoken with Eng. Rashed Al Falasi (Director - Parks and Recreation Facilities Division (PRDF)) in ADM on the vision which is “to ensure a superior quality of life and a sustainable environment of Abu Dhabi residents” and their plans to expand the green area in the Emirate while conserving water and natural resources.
Can you brief us on the history of PRFD?
The Parks and Recreation Facilities Division (PRFD), which is part of the ADM was established since 2005 as PGD “Public Gardens Directorate”, and then converted to PRFD with due respect to restructuring. PRFD in 2005 is established as amalgamation of different Sections, Directorates / Department such as SPC-Landscape and Irrigation Section, Forest Department and Agriculture Department.
PRFD is responsible for meeting the rapidly growing needs of the city of Abu Dhabi.
What is the overall vision of ADM?
Vision of ADM as topic is to ensure a superior quality of life and a sustainable environment for Abu Dhabi residents.
ADM is responsible for providing sustainable comprehensive services to the public and ensuring proper planning of the developing city, with regularized road networks, parks, gardens, street landscape, amenities, maintenance services, lighting works, launching the landscape development plan in the Emirate and establishing public markets in various areas.
As part of Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030, ADM aims to transform Abu Dhabi into a world-class city that provides for its residents a great place to live and work and attracts investors and visitors from all over the world.
To achieve this transformation, we have joined our efforts with strategic partners such as the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) to coordinate on the development of projects that are aligned with the guidelines of the Public Design Realm Manual and Estidama. Other associated partners include the Department of Transportation, Department of Municipal Affairs, and the Environment Agency.
Once of the most important aspect is that is to reduce the usage of irrigation water, not to depend to the natural groundwater resources, using local ambient tolerant plants and plantation system, attempting to use sea water and recycling the irrigation water as much as possible.
What is the PRDF’s role in implementing the overall vision of ADM?
PRFD’s vision is
To provide Abu Dhabi residents with quality living through innovative planning, outstanding municipal services and modern infrastructure.
To be recognized internationally for an award winning sustainable landscape environment that places the City of Abu Dhabi as a leading global city with a distinctive identity and sense of place.
At the same time, our division’s mission is
To foster a distinctive, vibrant, aesthetically pleasing network of open space and public realm across the city that offers residents and visitors landscaped areas while ensuring sustainable use of natural resources including water, energy and plantings.
Our objective is
To provide Abu Dhabi residents with quality living through innovative planning, outstanding municipal services and modern infrastructure. Recently the main objective is to increase the number of playgrounds and parks in Abu Dhabi, a request from ADM’s General Manager to work on providing new recreational facilities for the residents.
The ADM was recently awarded the Greenery Award for Best City in the Middle East Countries for 2010, presented from the Arab Cities Organization at an event in Doha, Qatar.
At the same time, since PRFD is dealing with the recreation facilities, PRFD’s members supported proactively to grant the blue flag for Abu Dhabi Corniche that becomes first beach in Gulf region to achieve Blue Flag certification as of June 2011. Blue Flags started flying on the Abu Dhabi Corniche on June 12, 2011 morning, assuring better health, environment, and safety standards to thousands of visitors. Abu Dhabi Corniche is the first beach in the Arabian Gulf region to achieve Blue Flag certification for beaches and marinas. Based on compliance with 32 strict criteria, including environmental management, information and education, water quality, public safety and services, Blue Flag is only awarded to beaches which meet all of these stringent international standards. The certification was awarded by the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) acting as the national coordinator in the UAE for the Blue Flag Programme. About 30,000 to 50,000 residents visit the beach every month.
We also work with international reputable and vastly experienced Consultants to handle the design, construction, operation and maintenance of some of our infrastructure and landscape projects. They provide technical support while the implementation and operation is through renowned contractors in the Emirate. Our main challenges are the enhancement of existing landscape and other infrastructure assets;
Updating asset information
Automating the asset information
Creation of GIS platforms,
Rehabilitation of existing landscape,
And finally constructing sustainable new landscape areas and infrastructures for the rapidly growing needs of Abu Dhabi.
What are the scope of work, functions and provided services of PRFD?
Our division is responsible for multidisciplinary fields such as Irrigation and Landscape, management of Stormwater, Electromechanical, and other functions including:
Design and construct of landscape and plantation projects in Abu Dhabi City (island and mainland).
Design and construct of lowering ground water table projects in Abu Dhabi City.
Design and construct of storm water networks projects & the related pumping stations.
Design and construct of TSE water distribution networks projects & the related pumping stations.
Operating & Maintenance for the parks, recreational facilities & landscape works in Abu Dhabi City.
Operating & Maintenance for the irrigation and storm water networks in Abu Dhabi City.
Review the design of the development projects which are submitted from the investment properties.
Permissions & NOC issuing to work in the areas that belong to PRFD.
The typical cycle of any new project starts with feasibility studies and detailed planning in cooperation with our strategic partners and following the guidelines set for the next period. Once the study is approved, we then design and tender the landscape and irrigation infrastructure projects.
The next steps include the design, review, value engineering and approval of all third party landscape & Irrigation projects carried out in Abu Dhabi City. Furthermore, we design, review and approve the design activities associated with PRFD O&M and Construction Section activities.
Throughout this process, we establish a Quality Control System to ensure the execution of works in compliance with the requirements of Design, Contract Specifications and international Standards while ensuring the completion of projects on time and urging the implementation of Performance Based Contracts (PBC) of the Operation & Maintenance projects as to make sure the performance of tasks implementation are always high quality.
PRFD manages all the landscape and irrigation assets located at Abu Dhabi City “Islands and Mainland”, involving more than a million maintenance assets with the management of GIS through AIMS. PFRD required AIMS, CMMS solution to cater to its day-to-day operations and maintenance of assets.
Water scarcity is amongst the biggest issues our region is facing today. How does ADM generally fulfill its commitment to water conversation?
It is one of Abu Dhabi’s ADM top priorities to reduce the water consumption. We have taken several initiatives to introduce water conservation technologies;
Following up the requirements of Estidama.
Developing parks and gardens to international standards which include xeriscaping to maximize the use of reclaimed water.
Drafting Subsurface Irrigation Guidelines.
Automation of Irrigation Water Network.
SCADA system is in place to monitor irrigation network.
Administering the Estidama rating system.
Developing irrigation master plan for the Emirate to identify weak points in the system and formulate prioritized infrastructure investment programs with timeframes and budgets.
Constructing new irrigation transmission and distribution networks.
As mentioned earlier, we are very keen on applying the strategies developed in line with the Emirate-wide policies and guidelines which are:
UPC Estidama/Estidama Pearl Community
Source of Irrigation Water
UPC Public Realm Design Manual
Source of Irrigation Water (TSE, Gray Water)
Plant Selection (local, drought resistant)
UPC Urban Street Design Manual
Source of Irrigation Water (TSE, Gray Water)
Plant Selection (80% to be local, drought resistant)
EAD Water Vision and Targets
Sustainable Water Use and Reduction of Water Stress Index
Water use per hectare of forest
Water use per hectare of agriculture
Encouragement of Water Management Programs
What are ADM’s new landscape strategies?
The overall landscape strategy is set from 2010 to 2015. Before 2010, the old strategy was coherent and had inadequate consideration to many aspects of the projects cycle. It covers the four main elements which are the design, construction, operation & maintenance, and the management of the projects.
In the design phase we are keen on presenting distinctive designs, by diversifying the planting strategy, while considering the typological, hierarchical design concepts. The designs should be feasible and sustainable (i.e., Plant selection, durability, sustainability, materials, water use, drought resistance, orientation, water source, energy) and should be climate compatible and sustainable as over all. Like I noted before the irrigation is very important, we rely on efficient irrigation systems “e.g., Dripping) and projecting to subsurface irrigation system. In the construction phase, we seek new sustainable methods that are applicable in prevailed ambient conditions. For the Operation and Management phase, we have divided the city into zones and areas with respect to the project functions for each contractor as to allow a more focused and specialized service in order cope with enhance performance, hence quality.
Also on the management level, we are eager to launch training program for new graduated / fresh Emirati Graduates with different skills. Thereupon, to upgrade the knowledge and know-how transfer to the new graduated / fresh Emiratis, the strategy is to fish out the experienced staff at first instance. We have sourced talented Emirati professionals and have established a standardized management system to ensure a transparent routine auditing to support the monitoring and feedback system.