By the end of next year, the Emirate of Dubai plans to open a unique public park project called the "Holy Quran Park" to cater to its regional tourist base.
Eng. Mohammed Noor Mashroom, director of General Projects Department at the Dubai Municipality, announced the $7.4 million plan Thursday, saying the park should be completed by September 2014.
The Dubai Municipality said in a press release that the proposed park, to be located in Al Khawaneej, had been designed âfrom an Islamic perspective to introduce the miracles of Quran through a variety of surprises for the visitors.â Designs include an outdoor theater, fountains, lake, walking and biking tracks, children's play area, Umrah corner and âareas for showing the miracles of the Quran.â
The 60-hectare park will also include a series of Islamic gardens featuring many of the 54 plants and trees mentioned in the text of the Quran, including fig, olive, leek, garlic, tamarind, basil and pomegranate.
"A glass building will accommodate 15 items of plants, and other items will be planted in different specific gardens. These plants are expected to stimulate the visitors to think about the reason behind mentioning the names of these plants in the Quran," Mashroom told the Emirates News Agency. The space allocated for the âmiracles of Quran,â he added, would include an air-conditioned tunnel with stories on the walls.
The initial site preparation, including tracks and service buildings, has already been completed, according to the Dubai Municipality. The second phase will begin in July 2013, while the third and final phase will last just one month between August and September 2014.
The park idea has garnered its fair share of criticism. One commentator said:
The whole project is characteristic of the emirate's commodification of everything. It's a project that appeases and attracts no one. If tourists are religious enough to want to come to Dubai and eschew its other attractions in order to execute a mock mini-pilgrimage in the "Umrah corner", chances are they won't be enamoured of its circus-like nature. It appears that the park is an excuse to build an area set back from the rest of the city's charms, but the religious subject is too vague, too tenuous.Cynicism aboutthe commodification of religion aside, this is to be the first of many religious projects.
Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of strategy and tourism sector development at Dubai's Department of Tourism Commerce Marketing, told Emirates 24-7 last month that heritage and religious tourism would be the new focus to drive the city to 20 million international arrivals per year in seven year's time.
âIn the past, the core strength in tourism has been beach holidays, shopping and sightseeing. To hit the 20m tourist figure, we are looking at different targets where gaps remain,â he explained. âSegments such as sport and heritage and culture tourism is where our feasibility study has led us and these are markets we are willing to pump money into and develop further.â
"Dubai's Holy Quran Theme Park To Appease Regional Tourists" " International Business Times June 20, 2013
Nesrine Malik, "A Qur'an theme park in Dubai is likely to please no one" The Guuardian UK June 24, 2013
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today