The benefits of a revived urban watercourse in Riyadh
Wadi Hanifa in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh, was a hugely important part of the city's history, but became a victim of urban sprawl in the 1970s, and gradually became a rubbish dump, open sewer and a health hazard. A huge recent, award-winning project has now re-established the wadi as a pleasant system of parks along the valley, providing Riyadh's residents with a place to escape the dusty heat of the city and take time to relax and socialise.
Though the watercourse couldn't simply be left to its own devices (it receives a huge amount of the city's wastewater and required an extensive system of bio-remediation wetlands and other measures to clean it up), this is a fantastic example of the benefits of giving people the opportunity to reconnect with nature in an urban context. One hopes that some more of the wadi's original natural morphological diversity will be allowed to develop over time, where possible.
More information is available on these sites:
...you can watch a video about the project here:
...and a brief radio feature can be heard 11 minutes and 44 seconds into this programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/b01hxpxm/