Riyadh expatriates are always on the lookout for new and refreshing things to do on weekends. There are many places in and around Riyadh which remain mostly unknown to the public, to find some of these ideas for weekend activities go to Blue Abaya’s Things To Do in Riyadh page.
One such ‘hidden gem location’ are The Diplomatic Quarter parks, which no doubt make up one of the most relaxing and serene places you can find within Riyadh’s city limits. Green, well-kept areas, amazing unique landscaping, lush gardens, open spaces to freely walk in, the sight and sound of water, children’s outdoor play areas, quiet and clean picnic areas, can all be found in the DQ, just a five minutes’ drive away from Riyadh’s center.
The Diplomatic Quarters hosts some of the most beautiful, green landscape and fascinating architecture in Riyadh. The Diplomatic Quarters was built on the edge of Wadi Hanifa in the 1970’s as living quarters for diplomats and the embassy area. Today the “DQ” is like a Green Eden midst the harsh surrounding desert, its parks like a refuge from the pollution and noise of bustling Riyadh.
What many if not most expats miss from our home countries is being able to walk, those free open spaces and green scenery. All of these can be found in the Diplomatic Quarters gardens. The entire DQ is an abaya free zone and resident expats can often be seen in regular clothing here. Unlike the rest of Riyadh public parks, the DQ parks are well maintained and trash-free (well most of the time they are!).
There are over 30 parks, deemed gardens in the DQ, scattered over the different residential areas and along the walking track. The track is about 20 km long and runs around the entire perimeter of the DQ. Views from the walking trail down to the Wadi Hanifa valley and its hundreds of date palm trees are spectacular. The edge of the wadi itself resembles a canyon, creating a stark contrast with the sea of palm trees below. In the distance, the palaces and mosques of old Diriyah can be seen. All that can be heard is the song of birds and the sound of a cooling breeze from the wadi.
The gardens were designed by a group of international landscape architects, their aim to preserve the natural environment using only native plants and natural materials. The seeds for the plants were gathered in the deserts and then planted in the gardens and all around the DQ area. The idea was to create a sustainable environment keeping in mind the natural flow of water and the existing formations in the landscape.
The gardens have been designed to have something for everyone. There are tranquil and serene areas for a more peaceful experience as well as children’s playgrounds, football fields, basketball courts and skating rinks to please the more active visitors.
fountain and the larger ones have sections of the park completely dedicated to different kinds of fountains.
For families with children these gardens make for an enjoyable day out. Children of all ages will enjoy the playgrounds which have everything from swings, slides and suspension bridges to imaginative climbing gyms. The grass fields are perfect for running around and picnics. The largest parks have mosques adjacent to them and all parks have toilet facilities.
The best time to visit the gardens is in the mornings or late afternoons when lots of children come to the playgrounds. They’re open all day and everyday of the week and open to everyone, free of charge.
Here are directions to the “Al Aarudh” garden, one of the largest in the Diplomatic Quarters with three different playground areas, two fountain areas, a grass field and mosque. Enter DQ from the North gate (access from Mecca rd.) immediately after entering you will see roundabout number 1. Go around it so that you take a left (the third exit) and continue on this street which goes into Hajar residential area. Drive on this street past the Indian and Guinean embassies on your right until you see the walls of the garden and shortly after the entrance to the park also on the right hand side. Park your car anywhere on the street.