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The Dubai Majlis Garden

By garden designer Thomas Hoblyn. The Dubai Majlis Garden is inspired by the celebrated multiculturalism of the Emirate of Dubai, where more than 3 million people from over 200 nationalities live, work and enjoy life together.

The Dubai Majlis Garden by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Designer Thomas Hoblyn is excited by the majlis and all it stands for. The majlis concept is cherished in Dubai and across the Middle East - the majlis, meaning “place of sitting” in Arabic, refers to special gatherings where people of all ages, social backgrounds, diverse cultures and nationalities come together to discuss with an open mind. The majlis essentially puts people in an exceptional position to learn and grow, and carries a wider significance of the importance of oral tradition, creating dialogue, deep thinking, inclusivity and sharing visions across cultures.   The Dubai Majlis Garden therefore celebrates the values of unity, collaboration and togetherness, which are essential to the co-existence of Dubai’s diverse culture, as the Emirate pushes forwards on its groundbreaking visions for the future.

The Dubai Majlis Garden by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Tom Hoblyn’s design 

The Dubai Majlis Garden designer Tom Hoblyn has created a space that attracts the young, and all boundary-pushing people regardless of age, culture and social backgrounds. He imagined a space within the grounds of an institution - a college, marketing agency, Internet or smartphone company, or an art studio - wherever young and forward thinking people naturally come together. 

The Dubai Majlis Garden by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Keen for the majlis not to be prescriptive in use, Hoblyn has created a space that people are free to use however they want - hence no proper seating, fixed routes, and no regimentation. In a diverse universe, where everyone regardless of age and social background strives to make meaningful connections, The Dubai Majlis Garden provides a calm, contemplative space to meet, learn about different cultures and traditions, and discuss future collaborations that will change the world.  He has also created the ultimate message to the cross generational, cultural and social majlis users, who are surrounded by natural elements in The Dubai Majlis Garden - look to Mother Nature for the answer. 

Garden elements and layout 

The naturalistic layout of The Dubai Majlis Garden is an artistic interpretation of the landscapes that are found in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean.  The garden is inspired by the sculptural beauty found in arid landscapes, from wind-blown sand dunes and fluvially eroded rock, to the manmade hillside terraces and the goat-browsed topiary-esque plants that colonise them. 

The Dubai Majlis Garden by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Many of the plants in the garden are seen in these environments and are used in an artistic way, including mounds and carpets as though sculpted by the wind or browsed by wild animals.  Man’s influence on the terrain, including fields that have grown wild and the agricultural terraces seen on hillsides across these regions also inspire the garden. The garden uses materials to evoke a Middle Eastern feel such as white limestone and contrasting burnt Sienna gravel that mimics eroded rock and ferruginous soils often seen in arid locations, while traditional earth rendering techniques have been used to create sand-dune-like shapes.  A water source seemingly connects to an oasis-like pool, metaphorically alluding to nature’s ability to find its way around obstacles potentially mirroring people's ability to innovate and think their way around challenges.

The planting 

The Dubai Majlis Garden by garden designer Thomas Hoblyn Chelsea Flower Show 2019

The Dubai Majlis Garden features planting from arid regions around the world, representing the multi-cultural diversity of Dubai. There are around 2,000 individual plants in the garden from over 30 plant families. These include a pomegranate tree, date palm, mint and Moroccan poppies. With muted oranges and blues, the garden has a soft, calm, embracing feel. 

Plant list


Allium cristophii
Rosmarinus officinalis Prostratus Group
Santolina rosmarinifolia subsp. rosmarinifolia 'Primrose Gem'
Myrtus communis
Parrotia persica
Convolvulus sabatius
Euphorbia myrsinites
Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
Teucrium fruticans 'Azureum'
Agapanthus africanus
Eryngium bourgatii 'Picos Blue'
Mentha requienii
Soleirolia soleirolii
Nigella damascena 'Oxford Blue'
Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina
Helichrysum italicum
Artemisia schmidtiana 'Nana'
Artemisia arborescens
Aloe vera
Festuca amethystina
Stachys byzantina
Sedum album 'Coral Carpet'
Thymus Coccineus Group
Carthamus tinctorius 'Grenade'
Euphorbia rigida
Salvia argentea
Adonis annua 'Scarlet Chalice'
Daucus carota
Catananche caerulea
Rosmarinus officinalis
Arbutus x andrachnoides
Hordeum jubatum
Phillyrea latifolia
Pistacia lentiscus
Frankenia thymifolia
Salvia candelabrum
Bupleurum fruticosum
Achillea tomentosa
Cotula hispida
Hordeum vulgare
Teucrium x lucidrys
Salvia aurea
Isatis tinctoria
Thymus pseudolanuginosus
Stipa pennata
Asphodelus albus
Sedum sexangulare
Senecio serpens
Euphorbia 'Grey Hedgehog'
Anthyllis vulneraria var. coccinea
Nigella hispanica
Ridolfia segetum
Sedum sediforme
Papaver rupifragum
Arbutus andrachne
Pinus halepensis
Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark'
Dorycnium pentaphyllum subsp. pentaphyllum
Euphorbia dendroides
Sarcopoterium spinosum
Euphorbia spinosa
Linum narbonense 'Heavenly Blue'
Punica granatum
Thymus ciliatus
Teucrium ackermannii