Culture, Cultural Heritage, Tourism, Architecture, Governance, Education and Training, Cultural development, Economic and social development, Communication, Monitoring and evaluation, Urban Plannning, Infrastructure Engineering
credits: DaiWebStudio

Master Planning Consultancy for Mezyad Desert Park – Al Ain

Conservation Architecture
Heritage management

Area: Mediterranean and Middle East
Country: United Arab Emirates
Period: 2016 - 2017
Client: Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority
Amount: 494.577 USD

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The area of the assignment “Mezyad Desert Park” corresponds to the area of Jabel Hafit Desert Park, which is the component 1.1 of the World Heritage Sites of Al Ain, inscribed in the UNESCO WHL since 2011. The site area measures about 4.000 ha.

The objective of the assignment is to review and validate the existing information and prepare a revised Master Plan for the Mezyad Desert Park in Al Ain, through the protection, conservation, interpretation and presentation of the archaeology and desert landscape.

The restoration of the natural landscape should be considered though natural means. The concept of a natural desert park must respect the historic landscape i.e. it recognises all previous human interventions that have marked the landscape.

The Mezyad desert park encapsulates a whole series of historical layers ranging from the geology and fossils showing the cretaceous period; the emergence of stone age societies with Neolithic encampments represented by flint scatters; to the early Bronze age tombs and the Late Islamic fort. Such historic layers also include the more recent human interventions such as the evidence of seismic surveys carried out for oil exploration.  Landscape archaeology should appreciate the impact of all previous human activities on the site in order to be able to have a comprehensive reading and understanding of the overall landscape.

Preference should be given to avoid major landscaping or use of heavy machinery, as this is likely to cause more damage than provide any benefit.  Furthermore, it is envisaged that the boundaries of the park will be secured by appropriate fencing, followed by the removal of grazing activities and illegal occupants to allow natural regeneration.

As part of the interpretation and presentation of the site, viewing platforms and potentially small food and beverage elements could be considered along the visitor routes / trails at strategically located points.

An appropriate sized visitor center, reflecting the functional and spatial requirements developed as part of the park management plan, business plan and visitor experience, should be included.  One option should consider restoring the existing Mezyad Desert Fort to perform this function, making it part of and integrating it into the visitor experience.

Stage 1 – Gap Assessment

  • Gathering and review of existing documentation


Stage 2 – Master Plan

Gathering additional site information, surveys and mapping

  • Acquisition of satellite images and orthorectification
  • Historical and archaeological research
  • Inventory of cultural and natural resources
  • Field surveys (vegetation, soil, infrastructure, archaeological, architectural, photographic).
  • Development of cultural landscape atlas

Site Management Plan

  • Assessment of values and site significance
  • Identify key issues and management pressures
  • Definition of vision and general management objectives
  • Definition of management strategies

Interpretive Plan

  • Definition of target audiences
  • Development of vision, themes and subthemes and - preliminary narratives
  • Definition of mediation strategy
  • Development of visitor experience map

Concept design options

  • Review and feedback on design concept prepared by - Gustafson Porter
  • Development of three options (low, medium and high intervention)

Business Plan

  • Visitor assessment
  • Elaboration of tourism projections
  • Elaboration of Economic outlook, financing, operations
  • Resourcing and training requirements
  • Sustainability of the Plan
  • Recommendations and Conclusions
































Stage 3 – Implementation Plan


Framework Contract “Culture and Information”

Framework Contract “Human Rights, Democratisation, Institutional Strengthening

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