Al Ain:Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA-Abu Dhabi) has a plan to develop a desert park around Mezyad Fort, said an authority official.

Conservation work will shortly be carried out on the fort to complement the Mezyad Desert Park project, he said.

The authority, he said, has carried out geophysical surveys and field walks in the area around the fort. The ceramic finds confirm a date for the related settlement of Mezyad goes back to the 18th century.

“Cultivation here was made possible by the runoff of water from the nearby Jebel Hafeet, and the remains of a falaj system survive to the south of the fort.

Following major restoration and reconstruction that was carried out at the fort in the 1980s, the area around the fort was incorporated into the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan’s farm.

The area later became a favourite place for horse riding, as shown by the stables that still survive just to the north of the fort. It was at this time that the palm trees in the fort’s inner courtyard were planted, said the TCA-Abu Dhabi official.

According to a UK-based consultancy firm, the desert park project has two main aims. The first is to restore the severely degraded desert land into a park to display the area’s natural diversity of flora and fauna, archeological sites and natural beauty. The second is to develop a luxury hotel and oasis spa.

The desert park project will involve a limited amount of construction work to create a new visitor centre, satellite areas and infrastructure, with landscaping within these locations. The hotel and oasis spa will have a far more extensive landscape scheme, including mature palm groves, semi-mature deciduous trees and large ornamental planting areas.