Here's my article on the DQ parks including directions how to find one of the most beautiful and scenic ones with plenty of activities for the little ones to enjoy as well. This article was published in the Women's Skills Bureau February Newsletter:
Riyadh’s hidden gems-the Diplomatic Quarter gardens
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.
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.
All of the plants that have been used in the DQ parks are endemic to the Arabian peninsula. Juniper, Acacia trees, Aloe Vera, Jasmine, Fig trees, Jujube trees, Prickly Pear cactus, and many others. The gardens have different flowers in bloom year round.
What makes the parks even more relaxing is the presence of water. The countless fountains, water channels and waterfalls create a constant calming sound of running water. This is like music to the ears for Riyadh’s desert dwellers. Every park has at least one fountain and the larger ones have sections of the park completely dedicated to different kinds of fountains.
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. The easiest way to pass the DQ security is to say you’re visiting your embassy during working hours and on evenings the sports club or ladies spa there.
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.