By Kabeer Yousuf -
In accordance with the Royal Decree No 41/2012 of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos which declared the expansion and development project for Al Naseem Public Park as a Public Utility Project, a surfeit of new features are in the pipeline to be added on to the existing garden. The Royal Decree empowers the authorities concerned to acquire through direct implementation the properties, installations and lands needed for the project.
Inspired by some of the world class parks around the globe and with the application of international designs, this large house for indigenous flowers and migratory birds will be a one-of-its-kind in the region upon completion.
Naseem Park, at the gateway of the city, will always remain an entrance to Muscat. Enlarged and redesigned, it will become a key entrance to the Sultanate of Oman itself in its culture and its landscapes.
By its scale and position, between the natural landscape near the sea and the agricultural plan of Al Batinah, the park with a surface of 210 hectares represents the different
manners to cultivate and garden the land according to the agricultural or artistic traditions, from the oasis to the orchard, the garden to the palm grove.
Thanks to its particular geographical situation near the sea and the exceptional natural landscapes such as dunes, plain punctuated with acacia, Naseem Park offers the occasion to link nature and artifice proportionately.
The changed look will express the spirit in it by offering the frame of a territory where every promenade is an interior voyage in the lands of Oman.
From the poem to
As the calligraphy lines of a poem, the park writes its partition on the site by following the traces of paths, the streets of the village, and the plots of the fields. This is how the main lines of the park are written. This drawing served as a base to the composition of the park.
From Artifice to Nature
The site of Naseem Park runs from the agricultural plain of Al Batinah to the sea, offering a succession of remarkable landscapes including the beach, the dunes, plain, palm grove, between the village walls and the park itself, location of a known festival.
The vegetation is very present and varied, some of which are acacias on the dunes in the plain, palm grove around the village, and ornamental trees in the park.
Adjusted closely to the existing topography and vegetation, the park takes its place in a subtle way in these different landscapes in order to enhance the character and atmosphere.
A park dedicated to the promenade
The park is composed along a promenade of 1400 metres long, lined by a canal. This axe serves a succession off eight gardens offering diverse atmospheres and sensations, fresh or dry peaceful or animated, shadowy or luminous, intimate or open to the sky.
The expanded park will have, among others, the festival garden, the traditional garden, the flower fields, the crop garden, the oasis garden, the birds’ lagoon, the dunes, all set against the backdrop of the beach and Oman sea.
On its north side, the park is limited by a gate well integrated in the landscape of the dunes, a gate enveloped by vegetation. On the west, the park is gated by walls which seem to extend the ones of the village nearby, while on the eastern side, this limit is materialised by a planted upper promenade, like an enclosure wall from which one can discover natural spaces on one side and thematic gardens on the other.
On the south, the park is gated by a fence along the road of Al Seeb. To the existing access are added new ones situated every 200 metres, between each sequence of gardens.
The festival parking lot will be maintained at its existing place and completed with new ones east of the upper promenade. The number of existing parking places is 4,250 and as many as 1,300 new parking places will be added.
Along the upper promenade, big walls contain pavilions welcoming cafes and restaurants. On the other side of the reservoir pool, facing the orchard, four pavilions punctuate the promenade.
In the dunes, a restaurant offers a panoramic terrace towards the sea of Oman. A large amphitheatre faces the lagoon. Near the restaurant a little open air theatre faces the sea.
Situated in the western part of the park, the equestrian centre offers the possibility to discover the natural space.
Of a surface of 60 ha, this park is mainly dedicated to the festival, games and events. The principal axes are prioritised and restructured. This park is not subject to particular propositions here.
On the west, the parking lots for the festival are conserved. They are largely planted of palm trees and trees giving shade. Outside festival time, these parking lots could welcome sport fields, in the continuity of the existing playfields.
As found in traditional Arabian gardens, the grand Reservoir pool is the masterpiece of this garden of 12 hectares. Animated with water jets, it welcomes an island in its centre, planted with a unique tree elevated by 3 metres; the basin allows irrigating the whole orchard and thematic gardens situated below.
Shadows, the sound of water and the songs of birds follow the visitors during their promenade. Water games rhythm the grand promenade, lined by a canal, facing restaurants and coffee shops situated in between two walls between the four thematic gardens. It is a meeting place which offers multiple uses by day as by night.
In the Traditional Garden, there will be Honey garden, Milk garden, Vineyard garden, and Water garden hosting diverse themes.
Additionally, there will be a 1700 AD Carpet representing the Paradise garden. The vineyard garden is the classical Arab garden which is divided into four parts between which a canal brings symbolically the milk, the honey, the wine and water. The garden of the vineyard is strongly shadowed by a structure, the Pergola on which runs the vine. Underneath, planted stripes with dark and violet colours, and seats compose the garden.
The garden of water shows different forms of water, such as fountains, water jet, and basin which offer the fresh atmosphere and lucid uses.
The terrace gardens evoke the landscapes of mountain village, cultivated fields in terraces, and palm groves.
Here, the irrigation system, the falaj, is highlighted in a contemporary manner the cultivated gardens.
The garden of oasis is composed of eight gardens linked by a sinuous promenade. They are situated in a natural space of high quality, where the existing vegetation is respected and enhanced. Each oasis highlights one native plant of Oman in a frame composed around the pattern of the star, as if the starry sky had sown fragments of stars. Alleys allow to walk through the grand plain to reach the birds lagoon.
At the west end, an equestrian centre gives the possibility to go on a horse promenade and discover this vast plain, the lagoon and the world of the dunes.
The birds lagoon is situated in the plain, along the dune ridge densely planted of acacia.
This lagoon of 11 ha is treated in a natural manner to obtain a real natural reserve where many different species of birds will come to nest. At the end of the lagoon, an amphitheatre sets this water piece. After the birds’ song by day, the melodies of Oman and divers concerts will take place by night. It is a place dedicated to night freshness, night’s lights and its starry sky.
The existing vegetation is preserved and re-enforced with new groves of native Oman’s trees. They will welcome shadowy resting places.
The dunes remodeled to facilitate the implementation of vegetation evoke the desert landscapes. Facing the sea, one of these dunes welcomes an open-air theatre and a belvedere restaurant offering a panoramic view towards the sea of Oman.
France-based Atelier d’architecture Lionel Orsi is the landscape and architects of this massive project for Muscat Municipality. Atelier Jacqueline OSTY and Associates have already done the studies and directions and CONCEPTO — Roger NARBONI will take care of the lighting of the whole park.
(Illustrations courtesy: Jean JOYON — Guylain DUPONT — Céline ORSINGHER)