How Dubai became Green in 1970s!

Modern Dubai expects to be surrounded by trees, grass and plants whether indoors or out. But before mid 1970s Dubai was a sandy wildness devoid of any significant greenery. Dubai's population rapid growth from the 1970s onwards brought its own solution to making things grow and turn Dubai green.

No Green to be Seen! Just Sand, Sand and more Sand!

1971: Dubai was not green. It was sand coloured! Dubai had almost no public green areas, few trees, lawns or private gardens. This 1971 Jumeirah Garden was just sand with a few Tamarisk Trees. Sheikh Ahmed of Qatar's Palace Complex was the only "oasis". Trees and plants had difficulty surviving Dubai's saline sandy soil. Tamarisk Trees could but killed any plant growing around them. Almond Trees could but needed constant watering. Bougainvillea provided limited amounts of colour. Gardeners turned to "Sweet Soil" to help with their gardens. "Sweet Soil" was a less saline and acidic soil found in garden town of Daid where it could be purchased but transported to Dubai. Small garden beds made with sweet soil would grow provided they were watered regularly but there was no guarantee of success. Over time sweet soil became contaminated by surrounding sand so had to be constantly replenished. Gardening required perseverance! It was frustrating and expensive. Many simply left nature to take its course!

Growing People = Growing Green

Sheikh Rashid built the Al Aweer Sewage Treatment Plant as part of 1960s Dubai Master Plan. By early 1970s most of Dubai's domestic accommodation connected to the mains sewage system. This was a unique amongst Gulf Countries where communal cesspits were the norm even for new high rise buildings. Dubai's rapidly growing population meant Al Aweer Sewage Treatment Plant processed increasing amounts of sewage. Its output of treated sewage and water increased in equal measure. While treated water was free of health risks it was unsuited for human consumption both from a taste point of view and public's perception of treated sewage water. Instead Dubai Municipality used this water to irrigate median strips on Dubai's new roads and public garden areas.

What's that Smelly Black Stuff??!!!

Treated sewage resembled lumps of coal! But it was coal with an odour! Dubai Municipality used this treated sewage as fertilizer for their greenery and made it freely available to Dubai's Residents for their gardens. Sweet soil mixed with this "home grown" fertilizer proved to be a fertile foundation for plants and trees. Even non Gardeners found they could make plants grow simply by using the "home grown" fertiliser and plenty of water.

Dubai Municipality began growing plants and trees in their new nursery, supplying these free of charge to Residents. As gardening in Dubai became easier more people grew more plants and trees. Dubai began turning green!! By mid 1970s Jumeirah Beach Road Gardens had changed from Sand Pits to developing "green" gardens.

Dubai's Gardens Grow

As more gardens became "green", there were now more gardens. Dubai Municipality established public green areas such as Mushrif Park (1974) and Safa Park (1975) Note: Mushrif Park has Dubai's first and (then) only public swimming pools. Dubai English Speaking School held its annual Swimming Gala there in the 1970s.

Dubai's rapidly establishing gardens now needed constant attention. Neglect a garden and it would soon return to a sand pit or rapidly overgrow. Dubai's illegal immigrants started to find work as casual gardeners. Many came from farming communities in their homelands. They knew how to grow things - at least some did. Unable to get regular work, Dubai's growing number of gardens provided an opportunity for these illegal Immigrants to work unofficially. Knocking on a front door and asking to look after the garden was often enough to convince a Resident to pay them a small monthly amount to water their gardens and tend plants for a couple of hours each day. Competent "Gardeners" soon found themselves looking after more than one garden as "recommendations" spread by word of mouth through the Community. Gardening became a well paid occupation for illegal workers until they faced competition as Professional Gardeners began to recognise the volume and value of garden maintenance and landscaping in Dubai.


How does your garden grow?

In the 1980s, Ali Mustapha (a Bahraini) started building a complex of detached villas in Umm Sequeim, then considered to be "out of town". The complex completed in 1990. The final villa's address was Number One Al Wasl Street despite being the last of over 40 villas built and not being on Al Wasl Road. Ali was proud of his development and took a keen interest in his Tenants. Any Tenant keen to improve his garden immediately received an offer of free manure. No 1's Tenant accepted the offer. Soon chicken manure began arriving from Ali's Chicken Farm in Daid. Not one truck load but many. Swarms of Flies followed! Ali said the flies would disappear over time. They did - after several months of purgatory. But Ali's Chicken Manure worked wonders. Stick almost any plant into the ground and it grew! We planted these trees and palms because we liked them. We didn't expect them to produce fruit - they just looked good! We were surprised when Paw Paw and Bananas appeared on our trees a couple of years later. We also had coconuts but they never amounted to anything. Paw Paws were enormous, well over a kilogramme each but didn't have any flavour. Bananas "disappeared" just as they were ready to be picked so didn't taste them. We never thought tropical fruits could grow in Dubai's desert climate! By the end of 1990s, No 1 Al Wasl Road had a flourishing garden with Flame Trees offering a blaze of colour during the day and Jasmine scenting the hot, humid evenings.

Tenant No 1 Ali Mustapha Villas Umm Sequeim

Gardens can make your Business grow too!

By the mid 1980s, gardening was no longer just a leisure activity for Dubai's Residents. Gardening became big business as more and more green areas developed associated with the growing number of commercial premises. Later NPK fertiliser found its way to Dubai and became the "cure all" for lawns and gardens.NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, three nutrients that compose complete fertilizers. You'll encounter NPK when reading the contents printed on bags of fertilizer. Gardening also moved indoors with businesses providing plants for offices, hotels etc. and earning money through maintenance contracts. Retail outlets appeared with an increasing number of flower shops importing fresh flowers, garden centres servicing both commercial and consumer markets. Gardening in Dubai was now big business.

Oleander flower shop is our first and oldest establishment that began in 1975 at a time when Dubai and the UAE was still developing into the metropolis it is today. Being the first high end retailer of its type that provided floral products and landscaping from Europe within the UAE, Oleander flower shop is known for its quality, service and diversity both in products and services. As Dubai and the UAE developed, so did Oleander, in the short time period of almost 40 years Oleander has grown both in size and its range of products & services. Today Oleander Flower Shop is widely spread across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UAE. Holding customer value and quality as our primary concerns, we use two of the nation's most vibrant Emirates as a hub to provide our services across the nation.

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