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close this bookBedouins, Wealth, and Change: A Study of Rural Development in the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman (UNU, 1980, 63 pages)
close this folderPART II. Case study: The United Arab Emirates
View the document(introductory text...)
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. The rural farming areas
View the document3. The rural Bedouin regions

(introductory text...)

Rainer Cordes

1. Introduction

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation was founded on 2 December 1971 and is composed of seven members

(see table 2). In size the UAE is comparable to Austria. Its population at the end of 1977 was 862,000 (Annual Statistical Abstract 1977 [UAE, Ministry of Planning

1978], p. 43, table 5). With the exception of the sea trade of Dubai, the economies of the Emirates were dominated until the 1960s by fishing, boat-building, agriculture, and nomad animal husbandry.

The Emirates may be divided into two geographical regions: a rural farming area in the north and east, and a rural bedouin area in the south and west. The latter area coincides for the most part with the emirate of Abu Dhabi, which comprises 88 per cent of the entire area of the Emirates. Therefore, development measures for rural farming areas apply mainly to the northern emirates, and measures for rural bedouin areas apply mainly to Abu Dhabi.

TABLE 2. Area of the United Arab Emirates by Emirate

  m2 km2
Abu Dhabi 26,000 67,340
Dubai 1,500 3,885
Sharjah 1,000 2,590
Ajman 100 259
Umm al-Qaiwain 300 777
Ras al-Khaima 650 1,684
Fujairah 450 1,166
Total 30,000 77,701

Sources: Fenelon 1973, p. 132, table 1; FAO 1973, p. 187; Sadik and Snavely 1972, p. 15, tables 1, 2.

  1. The goals of developmental policies in the United Arab Emirates can be summarized as follows.
  2. a balanced development of all parts of the federation through the planned use of national wealth;
  3. the opening up of the country through development of the infrastructure;
  4. the expansion and improvement of educational opportunities for the native population (school attendance has been mandatory since 1971);
  5. the creation of comprehensive medical care;
  6. construction of appropriate housing;
  7. the diversification of the economy by initiating and expanding economic activities other than oil production;
  8. improvement and expansion of agricultural production while retaining traditional techniques and applying new knowledge to breeding, crop selection and cultivation methods;
  9. the expansion and modernization of fishing and the creation of a fish-processing industry;
  10. the establishment of a petrochemical industry as well as of industries that are not based on the processing of petroleum and natural gas;
  11. intensification of economic co-operation between the states on the Arabian Gulf.
  12. Development in the oil-rich emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai is financed to a large extent by their own budgets and the organization and operations are determined by their own governments. However, in the other emirates socio-economic developments are financed through the federal budget, 90 per cent of which is supplied by Abu Dhabi (see The Times, London, Tuesday, 21 June 1977, Special Report, p. 10) and responsibility rests with the federal government.

Strict adherence to the above-mentioned goals by each emirate government and the federal government has led to the following results.

Since 1971 more than 1,500 km of asphalt roads have been completed in the United Arab Emirates. This includes an expressway which links the emirates together and facilitates development within the individual emirates (author's calculation from Public Works [UAE, Ministry of Public Works] 1973, 1975, 1976).

In 1976 the UAE's fourth international airport was opened at Ras al-Khaima. In 1977 Sharjah inaugurated its new airport; another large international airport is under construction near Abu Dhabi Town and will replace the current airport; Dubai International Airport is undergoing expansion; two other international airports, in Fujairah and al-Ain, are in the planning stages.

The harbours in the UAE have been expanded during the past few years or are currently being expanded. In Dubai an industrial harbour is being built at Jebel Ali; Abu Dhabi
expanded Port Zayed from six (1972) to 18 quays (1976); Port SaqrlRas al-Khaima is close to completion and will have five freight quays; Ajman has built a dry-dock; Fujairah has turned its harbour into a deep-water port; a container port is being opened in Khor Fakkan.

In 1953 there was only one school in the Emirates, in Sharjah (Fenelon 1973, p. 98). In 1976 there were 185 schools (Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, p. 287, table 174).

The number of hospitals and clinics for the treatment of out-patients has increased dramatically. In 1976 there were 13 government hospitals and 47 clinics (Annual Statistica/ Abstract 1977, pp. 320 - 321, tables 198, 199); in 1978, two modern hospitals were completed in Abu Dhabi Town; a hospital in Beda Zayed/Abu Dhabi will open soon; a hospital in al-sin planned to open in the middle of 1979.

The Ministry for Public Works and Housing had constructed 2,738 low-cost houses in the northern emirates by March 1978 (unpublished statistics from the Ministry for Public Works and Housing). The governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are responsible for the financing and construction of the housing projects. The government of Abu Dhabi had constructed 3,846 low-cost houses by the end of 1975 (author's calculation from Public Works 1973, 1975, 1976). Although every native Emirati has the right to acquire one of these houses free of charge, it is primarily the low-income groups that take advantage of this right.

The capacity of the power stations built by the Ministry of Electricity and Water has increased as shown in table 3.

TABLE 3. Development of Installed Capacity of the Ministry of Electricity and Water, Power
Stations 1972 - 1976

  1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
Capacity in kilowatts 4,634 7,534.6 18,907 28,371.8 64,330.8

Source: Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, p.173, table 103.

8. In 1975 the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed, opened a satellite-receiving station in Jebel Ali. It serves as a link in the world-wide telecommunications network. A second station in Ras al-Khaima began operations in 1977.

9. Industrial parks are being created in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is establishing a petrochemical industry near Ruweis; Dubai is developing its industry, which will include an aluminium factory and a steel factory next to the new industrial harbour of Jebel Ali; Sharjah has one of the four largest cement works in the UAE; a fish-processing industry is developing in the northern emirates. It should be noted, however, that industrial production represented only 2.5 per cent of the gross national product in 1976 (Jahreswirtschaftsbericht 1977 [Botschaft der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1978], p.3).

10. The fishing fleet of the Emirates is being modernized. The number of fishing boats was 1,065, and the total catch in 1976 was 64,430 tons (Jahreswirtschaftsbericht 1977, p. 3).

11. Table 4, which summarizes the budget of the federal government from 1972 through 1976 and shows the budgets for two ministries, reflects the efforts toward development.

TABLE 4. Budget of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, 1972 - 1976*

  1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
Total budget 214,402 510,000 865,000 2,278,263 4,151,968
Health budget 12,947 300,538      
Educationbudget 25,591 530,342      

Source: Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, pp. 226 - 235, tables 145 - 149. in thousands of dirhanns 11 dirham = approximately US$0.26).

2. The rural farming areas

The areas suited to agriculture in the United Arab Emirates are determined by the availability of water and cultivable soil. Wide areas are covered by salt marshes and sterile desert sands and, like the mountain regions, have very limited potential for agricultural use. It is primarily the gravel and coastal plains which are suited to such use.

The average annual precipitation of 110 mm is not sufficient for agriculture. Ground water was and is the main natural source of water for agriculture.

Ground water is limited both in quantity and quality and the same is true of arable land. Agricultural development depends upon these two primary factors.
The Distribution of Ground Water

Three aquifer systems constitute the primary ground-water sources (see UNDP/FAO 1976). The first is a shallow alluvial aquifer system which extends beneath the gravel plain and the areas at the edge of the desert. This system lies to the west of the Oman Mountains and extends from the northern territory of the emirate of Ras al-Khaima to al-Ain. The system is not spread over a wide area but extends in long fingers which become closer together in the area of the Jiri plain (Ras al-Khaima) and northwest of there to the coast. The volume of ground water in this system is in creased by precipitation which falls on the west side of the mountains and seeps into the ground, mainly in the gravel zone, though the storage capacity of the system is notably greater than the increase which it receives along its 170 km-long front. In Ras al-Khaima the aquifer system narrows because of the limited land surface (mountains, gulf) and the danger of salt-water intrusion is much greater.

The second of the aquifer systems also alluvial, is on the Batinah coast. This system is found between mountain ridges which reach down to the coast and receives inflow from precipitation that falls on the mountains and, to a limited extent, from under-flow from mountain valleys. The water table is very close to the surface.

The third is the deep carbonate aquifer system which extends into the southern part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

While the ground water in this system is very salty and brackish in the northern emirates and in the al-sin area, its quality improves toward the south. South of al-Ain, the water contained in the upper part of the system has more than 10,000 ppm, according to various drill samples. In the wells of the Liwa, on the other hand, the water has only 1,000 to 1,500 ppm; between the Liwa and the coast, the ground water is of drinking quality in certain locations.

The Distribution of Arable Land

In 1966 - 1967 the Department of Geography of the University of Durham conducted a "Survey of Soils and Agricultural Potential in the Trucial States" on behalf of the Trucial States Council (see Trucial States Council 1967). The goal of the study was to determine what arable land was available and to classify it according to its agricultural suitability. Six classes were established on the basis of soil type, alkalinity, salinity, relief, and hydrological conditions, the sixth class being designated unsuitable for agriculture. The study concluded that the following areas had agricultural potential: a. the Batinah coast and islands b. small intramontane areas near Masafi, Siji, Idhn, and Masfut c. the Madam plain d. the Gharif plain e. the Dhaid plain f. the Jiri plain g. desert basins in the emirates of Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm al-Qaiwain where soil has limited potential for cultivation.

The regions with agricultural potential were only partially developed at the time of the study and expansion of the cultivated area was anticipated.

In 1969 the Department of Geography of the University of Duham, prepared a report entitled "The Soils and Agriculture of the Al Ain Oases, Abu Dhabi" for the Department of Agriculture of Abu Dhabi (Stevens 1969). The report confirmed that in the al-sin area some soil was well suited for agricultural development but in certain places the soil had no potential beyond its present use.

Goals of the Agricultural Policies and Measures to Develop the Rural Farming Areas

The UAE government has three basic aims in this context: (a) to adopt measures to prevent a flight from the land by the farming population; (b) to optimize native food production while preserving soil and water resources; and (c) to diversify the farmers' sources of income.

An economic and social disparity between town and country life has become evident in the UAE as economic development has been concentrated on the urban areas. As urban living and employment became more attractive to the farming population, many farmers moved to the towns, seeking temporary or permanent work and farms were cultivated less intensively or were abandoned. Such changes conflicted with the government's goal of optimizing domes tic production of foodstuffs and countermeasures were obviously necessary.

Agricultural development was controlled by the government and, at great cost both financially and technically, was related to the urban centres. Schools were established in rural regions; adult education programmes were instituted; comprehensive medical care was organized; new dwelling units, the so-called "low-cost houses," were built and let to the natives rent free; supplies of water and electricity were secured. In the rural farming areas of the northern emirates, 414 km of asphalt roads were built between 1972 and 1976, and 20 schools and 17 medical care centres were constructed. A total of 73 new settlements with 2,203 housing units were established on the sites of old settlements or in the immediate vicinities (author's calculations from Public Works 1974, 1975; 1976; unpublished statistics from the Ministry for Public Works and Housing).

3. The Organization of the Extension Service

Sources: FAO 1973; author's enquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1978, and field trips to agricultural centres and extension units in the northern emirates, April 1978.

Measures Relating to Agriculture in the Rural Farming Areas

1. The Extension Service.

In addition to the measures mentioned above, projects were introduced to increase agricultural production. To facilitate these plans the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries created an Extension Service which was organized as shown in figure 3.

The federation has been divided into four agricultural regions, of which three are under the authority of the federal ministry; the fourth, comprising the southern region with al-sin as its centre, is under the Agriculture Department of the government of Abu Dhabi. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, employing numerous experts and assistants, administers development in the northern region, centre at Digdagga; the eastern region, centre at Fujairah; and the middle region, centre at al-Dhaid. Each region is divided into independent extension areas, the branch office of the federal ministry located in an extension area being called an Extension Unit. These regions, centres, and units are shown in figure 4.

The measures adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries are introduced into the rural farming areas and implemented by employees of the centres and units. There are two main tasks: field service, and extension work.

The centres and units have modern agricultural machines at their disposal and they store seed and seedings, insecticides and pesticides, and chemical fertilizers which are made available to the farmers. Individual farmers thus need not acquire expensive machines and tools which are used only for short periods of time. Furthermore, field service personnel perform a number of tasks that need to be done during the rural work year such as the drilling of wells, the cultivation of fields, the control of pests, and the repair of machines and tools. The field service and the distribution of costs connected with it in the northern emirates are shown in table 5.

In 1976 the following services (see Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, pp. 102 - 107, tables 49 - 54) were supplied to the three agricultural regions: a. 14,718 extension visits were made to 5,913 landowners; b. 38,625 sacks of fertilizer were made available to farmers; c. 114,881 distributions of seed were made; d. 9,834 Itr and 8,239 kg of insecticides and pesticides were sold;

The following information was obtained from FAO 1973; interviews at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 1978; and study visits to the agricultural centres and extension units of the northern emirates in April 1978. e. 2,328 landowners received tractor services; f. 203 vehicles and farming-equipment pieces belonging to the units were used.

TABLE 5. Field Service and Distribution of Costs in the Northern Emirates

Field service Bearer of Costs
Farmer Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Tractor service   X
Well-drilling   X
Spraying of plants    
with pesticides   X
Seed and seedings 50% 50%
I Insecticides/pesticides 50% 50%
Fencing in of the    
cultivated area 50% 50%
Pump(s) 50% 50%
Repair of machines    
and implements x  

Sources: Information obtained from interviews at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and at the Agricultural Centres and Extension Units of the northern emirates, April 1978.

"Most of the Extension Work deals with advising and assisting the farmers in obtaining seed, seedlings, pest control, fertilizer, ploughing etc. and in marketing the produce" (FAO 1973, annex 3, p. 169). New cultivation methods, agricultural and irrigation techniques are demonstrated on the fields belonging to the centres and units, and seeds and plants are tested there. The harvest from the demonstration fields is usually distributed free to the native farmers to encourage them to adopt the innovations that have been introduced.

Sometimes, however, the new techniques are not practical or practicable. In 1978, 300 ha of wheat were cultivated at plots at al-Oha Extension Unit, al-Ain. Judging from unofficial sources, more than 300,000 cubic metres of water were necessary to irrigate the cereal. An input-output calculation, taking into account such factors as the cost of the water, machinery, and fertilizer, shows that a kilogramme of wheat was produced at an approximate cost of US$2.

An agricultural school connected with the Agricultural Centre, Digdagga, is providing natives as well as other interested Arabs with three year agricultural courses. At present 14 Omanis are enrolled along with native Emiratis.

Traditional agriculture in the UAE region was characterized by intensive labour and low yields. Today large amounts of capital are invested in agriculture. Only very limited capital is provided by farmers themselves; the bulk is budgeted by the federal government. Farmers are thereby enabled to modernize their farms with credit from the state, and they avoid the risks and burdens of heavy debts. The productivity of the land has increased and given individual farmers higher profits and enabled them to employ foreign agricultural workers, usually Indians or Pakistanis. The farmers themselves become co-workers of the centres and units, or they commute to towns where they enter new, non-agricultural fields of work.

FIG. 4. Agricultural Regions of the Northern Emirates

Sources:FAO 1973; Wilkinson 1977; author's enquiries in 1978

The fact that agriculture has become increasingly attractive has resulted in an increased demand for cultivable land. Natives, whether bedouins, urban dwellers, farmers, or fishermen, can apply to the government for free land grants in the farming areas. Such applications are generally approved. The parcels of land granted measure 500 x 500 ft or 1,000 x 1,000 ft according to the quality of the land (information obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, April 1978). Fathers can apply in the names of their children, thus acquiring large areas of farmland. While there were 10,766 ha of land under cultivation in the three agricultural regions in 1973 (FAO 1973), by 1976 there were 19,171 ha (Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, p. 41, table 41).

Surveys conducted in the centres and units in the northern Emirates in the spring of 1978 revealed a sharp increase in the amount of land brought under cultivation since 1975 (information obtained during several study visits to the northern emirates, April 1978). This author noted an increasing percentage of new arable land during several trips through the three agricultural regions. The new areas either extend along the main highways (al-Dhaid) or are to be found in the immediate vicinity of the towns (Digdagga). Owners of these areas are not only farming families but also town dwellers and bedouins who have found a new source of income in agriculture, although neither the town dwellers nor the bedouins work their land themselves.

The townsmen are so well integrated into their employment that they have no time for agricultural work. The bedouins have time, at least potentially, to work their land but consider the standard of living and the social status of the farmer as being clearly below their own. (For bedouins the only agricultural activity other than camel herding which was traditionally dignified was the cultivation of date palms.) It is thus not surprising that bedouins make an effort to own land only when they are in a position to hire foreign workers. The government's attempt to settle bedouins in Mileiha/Sharjah and to motivate them to work on already existing farms was doomed to failure. The same was true of a Dubai government project: a large agricultural area was opened in Ruwaya in 1974, divided into parcels of two hectares, fenced, and supplied with water. The parcels were intended for distribution to those bedouins wanting to engage in agriculture. The bedouins were not interested and the parcels were instead granted to town dwellers (information obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Municipality of Dubai, May 1978).

The extent of agricultural production is determined by ecological conditions and by the marketability of the produce. Although traditional agriculture was primarily to maintain the farming household, today's production is intended for the market. The economic development of the UAE, the steadily increasing number of inhabitants, and the establishment of a good transportation system between rural areas and urban markets have made the marketing of agricultural produce very profitable. Farmers either sell their produce to wholesalers or deliver it directly to the market. The establishment of marketing co-operatives sponsored by the government has already passed through its first phase.

Nevertheless agriculture is of subordinate significance to the majority of the farm owners. For them agriculture provides only one source of income. Their financial outlay is small and there is a wide range of government aid available to them; profits are excellent. No knowledge of economic principles and no long-term commitment are required. And at present it must be said that the federal government is not attaining its agricultural aims.

Vegetables and fruit are grown outside and high summer temperatures limit the variety of summer vegetables to a few heat-resistant species such as melons, okra, and peppers. The main season for growing vegetables is the winter, when tomatoes, cabbage, melons, onions, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, eggplant, and potatoes are grown successfully and prove the high suitability of the winter climate for horticulture. The percentage of the cultivated land planted with each variety of winter crop is determined by the demands of the country's vegetable markets. Table 6 shows the land area planted to various crops in the northern emirates.

TABLE 6. Area of Winter Crops in the Northern Emirates

  Percentage of cultivated area
Tomatoes 48.5
Cabbage 17.7
Melons 9.7
Onions 7.5
Eggplant 6.6
Green peppers 4.8
Lettuce 3.2
Cucumbers 1.2
Potatoes 0.8
Total 100.0

Source: Author's calculation from Annual Statistical Abstract 1977, p. 97, table 44

In order to increase the quality and quantity of summer vegetables, simple greenhouses with heat-reducing covering and lights are being tested at the Digdagga and Fujairah centres by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in cooperation with the UNDP/FAO. The greenhouses that have been developed are inexpensive and can be set up without difficulty by farmers.

The main types of fruit are dates and lemons; both have played an important part in the diet of the Emiratis. Date palms grow where soil conditions and the salt content of irrigation water prevent the cultivation of vegetables. During the date harvest from June to September the farmers from all three agricultural regions sell their dates at the large markets in the United Arab Emirates.

The large increase in land under cultivation has also brought an increase in the amount of water used and a rapid lowering of the ground-water table. Experts have established that the water table in the central region has been lowered three metres in five years and in the southern region by one and a half metres in three years. In a study of soil and water conditions by the UNDP/FAO (1976) the rates of water inflow and outflow have been computed for the aquifer system between Ras al-Khaima and al-sin (table 7).

TABLE 7. Water Inflow and Outflow Rates for the Aquifer

System between Ras al-Khaima and al-sin

  106 m3 per annum
Mean annual recharge +100
Net consumption by agriculture -140
Extraction for municipal water supply -24
Consumption by natural vegetation not quantified
Evaporation on sabkhas and
losses to the sea

Source: UNDP/FAO 1976, p. 34.

The yearly deficit amounts to 124 million cubic metres, and this will lead eventually to the depletion of the system's water reserves.

Because of the proximity of the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the rapid lowering of the water table in the three agricultural regions results in the intrusion of salt water; this in turn limits or eliminates the possibilities for cultivating fruit and vegetables.

The traditional falaj irrigation system demanded a high degree of co-operation between water users and a sense of communal responsibility. The laborious method by which it was acquired made water a valuable commodity and this influenced its consumption by the individual farmer and his community responsibility. The introduction of motorized pumps has individualized the use of water and eliminated community control and responsibility. The free, seemingly unlimited use of water is seen as a strong indication of progress by large segments of the farming community. Natural water resources are being irresponsibly exploited. The danger of this to agriculture is made clear in the UNDP/ FAO study:

It should be noted that the present level of agricultural development on the gravel plain and the desert foreland has an irrigation water demand which, of itself, imposes heavy overdraft conditions on the reservoir. So the present level of agricultural development cannot be maintained in the long-term and substantial reduction of the currently irrigated area must be foreseen. [UNDP/FAO 1976, p.39.]

The substitution of desalinated sea water for fresh water from natural sources for agricultural purposes, desirable as it may be, is ruled out by the extremely high costs involved. The creation of an institution similar to the Irrigation Management Service established in the USA by the Bureau of Reclamation would be a desirable step; its task would be to introduce farmers to new irrigation techniques and a way of organizing irrigation that would optimize the use of water (information obtained from an expert of the US Bureau of Reclamation at Dubai, May 1978). A further possibility would be for the government to set a fee for the use of ground water and thereby to make the value of water significant to farmers.

2. Research and Experimental Work Designed to Improve Agriculture

New agricultural techniques and new methods of seeding and cultivation, introduced to native agriculture through the Extension Service, are the result of research and experimental work based on ecological conditions and of a survey of related marketing prospects. This work, while carried out at only a few locations, has validity for a wider area. The research and experimental work is either tied to specific projects or carried out in specially established research stations. It is limited at present to cultivation; the only project involving animal breeding was terminated in 1977 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In the following sections, one research project and three research stations will be discussed. Although the three stations are under the authority of the government of Abu Dhabi, the results obtained are available to the whole country.


In 1974 the government signed a contract with the UNDP/ FAO for a Project for Water and Soil Investigations for Agricultural Development. While the scientific, technical, and organizational responsibility for the project was borned by the FAO, the government guaranteed the financing of the project.

Work on the project was begun in 1975 and was limited to the Digdagga Agricultural Experiment Station, the al-Dhaid Agricultural Station and, to a lesser extent, the Fujairah Agricultural Station. Digdagga was chosen as a location for the project because a large, well-equipped experimental station of the Agricultural Ministry already existed there and because the work of the project was to have as broad an influence as possible (Digdagga lies in the centre of the largest self-contained agricultural area in the UAE). The project has not yet been completed.

The goal of the project is to provide scientific, technical, and organizational support to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in: (1) research and experimental work with selected types of fruit and vegetables that have been successfully cultivated over a longer period of time (breeding and selection); (2) developing new agricultural techniques and cultivation methods that are in keeping with the ecological, particularly the hydro-edaphic, conditions in the region.

The successful results obtained by the project are to be applied to quantitative and qualitative improvement of native agriculture by means of the Extension Service.


In 1969 the government of Abu Dhabi and the University of Arizona, USA, signed a contract for the construction and administration of a power, water, and food facility on Sadiyat island. Sadiyat is in the Arabian Gulf, one kilometre from Port Zayed in Abu Dhabi. The Environmental Research Laboratory (Erlab) of the University of Arizona, which at that time was conducting a pilot project in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, took over the scientific, technical, and organizational direction of the planned installation.

In June 1970 the first greenhouse for experimental work began operations. Construction of the centre was com pleted in February 1972. During a construction period of two years, four large steel-framed, polythene-covered greenhouses and 48 small, inflated half-bubbles of plastic were set up. Also built were a power station (12,000 kva), a desalination plant delivering an average of 60,000 gallons of water, a workshop, and a multi-purpose building. In addition, the centre was linked to the port of Sadiyat by an asphalt road two kilometres long. The area covered by the greenhouses was five acres: four acres for commercial vegetable cultivation and one acre for research and experimental work. Since the beginning of 1977, a further experimental area for the outdoor cultivation of vegetables has been available.

The goals of the Arid Land Research Centre

In 1969 three goals had already been formulated-and these have been strictly adhered to. They are: a. Cultivation and technical research with particular reference to the prevailing agricultural and ecological conditions. b. Instruction and training of Abu Dhabians in the latest developments in agricultural and greenhouse techniques and in the organization and direction of the ALRC. c. The production of vegetables of high quality and quantity with good market potential.

Research and experimental work

The following briefly characterizes the research and experimental work of the ALRC.

The breeding and selection of seed which guarantees good production under the ecological conditions of Abu Dhabi (and thus of large parts of the UAE) have a high priority. Experience has taught the researchers that seed originating in the tropics can best adapt to the ecological potential of Abu Dhabi. The best example of this is the tomato seeds bred by the University of Hawaii which are used on Sadiyat. Seed is supplied primarily by Japanese, French, and Dutch firms .

The development and use of plant-improvement measures designed to shorten the maturation period while at the same time increasing yield is a related project. The author noted that on Sadiyat the plant crown of tomatoes is trimmed so that the growth potential of the plant is diverted to the advantage of the fruit.

The selection and improvement of suitable irrigation systems and fertilizing methods, and the development of new greenhouse techniques are other goals. Drip-and-trickle irrigation ensures a well-directed supply of water. Fertilizer in the form of a soluble chemical, imported from the Federal Republic of Germany, is applied by the irrigation system. The amount of chemical fertilizer used is about 150 t per year.

Natural fertilizers are used on the experimental field for outdoor growing of vegetables; although there are two compost factories, natural fertilizer is also imported because of its much higher quality. The soil that provides the beds for seeds and seedlings on Sadiyat is sand and consists of 95 per cent calcium carbonate with a pH value of 8.6. Its only function is to provide support for the plants. It is able to support low-growing plants, but is supplemented by a vertically-ordered system of strings for taller plants. In the spring of 1970 there were experiments in cultivating vegetables in hydrocultures: the seedlings are bedded in grooves of artificial material containing a plant-food solution instead of in sand and the plants are supported by strings.

The development and improvement of cooling and ventilation systems designed to extend the period during which vegetables can be grown, particularly in the summer months, is another research area. On Sadiyat, sea water with a temperature of 20 - 25 C (66 - 88 F) is taken from the Gulf by vertical turbine pumps and then pumped to the front of the greenhouse. Air from the outside passes through this filter, is cooled and lowers temperatures inside the greenhouses significantly below those outside. As a result of experience in Puerto Penasco, additional sources of shade have been provided in accordance with the needs of individual plants. Furthermore, ventilators are installed beneath the ridges of the roof to ensure good air circulation.

Research and experimental work is conducted to improve pest control and to limit plant disease In addition to numerous experiments with insecticides and pesticides it should be noted that of the 60,000-gallon average production of desalinated sea water, part of it is used for sterilizing (leaching) the sand that serves as the bed for seed and seedlings. It should also be mentioned that the water not used in the centre supplies the needs of the population and industry of Sadiyat. Until the ALRC began operations, the supply of water had been brought by tank ships.

Training and instruction

The training and instruction of Abu Dhabians in the newest agricultural and greenhouse techniques and in the organization and direction of the centre, is a goal established at the time the contract was signed, and it was already being pursued in 1970. Three Abu Dhabians underwent a year of training in Arizona and then returned in order to continue and complete their training at the ALRC with nine other trainees. Since that time 15 Abu Dhabians have completed the training programme. They were competent to take over the direction of the centre in 1975.


The selection of types of vegetables to be cultivated on Sadiyat was determined by the results of an intensive marketing and production evaluation study of different varieties. The study recommended about fifteen kinds of vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, radishes, cabbage, squash, lettuce, and carrots.

The greatest demand in the local market at Abu Dhabi is for tomatoes and cucumbers. It is therefore not surprising that of the four acres devoted to commercial cultivation, two are planted with cucumbers and one-and-a-half with tomatoes. While cucumbers can be harvested four times a year on Sadiyat, tomatoes can be harvested only three times since the high relative humidity in the summer inhibits production from June to September. Statistics for the most important types of vegetables, their production figures and value in 1975 and 1976 (table 8), indicate the importance of tomatoes and cucumbers to the ALRC, which together account for more than 90 per cent of total production.


3. The rural Bedouin regions

Development Plans and Projects in the Rural Bedouin Regions of Abu Dhabi Emirate

Because of its ecological conditions, (see part I, chapters 2 and 3), the emirate of Abu Dhabi, which covers approximately 87 per cent of the total area of the UAE, is the home of the bedouin population.

In 1936 Petroleum Concessions Trucial Coast, a subsidiary of the multi-national Iraq Petroleum Company, attempted to secure drilling and production rights in the sheikhdoms on the Arabian Gulf The annual lease payments offered by the company were welcomed by the rulers, their budgets having suffered considerable losses. These losses had followed on a marked decrease in the demand for expensive natural pearls on the international market as a result of the advance made by Japanese cultured pearls at the beginning of the 1930s. Difficulties in selling pearls and the resultant decline in pearl diving led to a drastic decrease in the tax revenues-understandable when one considers, for example, that at the beginning of the century 82 per cent of the sheikh of Abu Dhabi's income was derived from taxes stemming from pearl diving (see Lorimer 1915; Wilkinson 1977). The rulers of the Gulf sheikhdoms were thus forced to find new sources of income during the 1930s (see Sadik and Snavely 1972; Fenelon 1973; Heard-Bey 1974, 1975; Wilkinson 1977).

The sheikhs of Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaima, and Kalba granted the concessions in 1938. Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan, the ruler (1928 - 1966) of Abu Dhabi, an extremely conservative man, delayed agreeing for a year before following suit in 1939.

The Second World War and its consequences brought about the final collapse of pearl diving in the Arabian Gulf. Thus a basic economic activity of the native population of Abu Dhabi was eliminated and could not be replaced by either of the other two main economic activities, nomad animal husbandry or the cultivation of date palms. As virtually every man capable of doing so had worked in the pearling industry (see Wilkinson 1977), its disappearance precipitated social malaise and a deep economic crisis (see Sadik and Snavely 1972: Fenelon 1973: Heard-Bey 1974. 1975: Wilkinson 1977).

The bedouin population's economic situation improved only when the oil deposits in Kuwait and Qatar, partly discovered before the war, were opened for exploitation after the war ended. More than 18,000 Emirate natives found work in the neighbouring Arab states (see Fenelon 1973; Heard-Bey 1974; Wilkinson 1977). And as the men tried to earn a living in the oil fields, their families remained at home and retained their traditional economic habits and life styles.

Once the necessary financial means had been acquired, or if traditional activities-e.g., the date harvest-required their presence, the men would give up their occasional labour in the oil fields and return home to the old areas of subsistence farming.

The world war had hindered prospecting in the emirates, but when the war was over the oil discoveries which had been made in the neighbouring states again sparked the interest of Petroleum Concessions Trucial States in the sheikhdoms. The first exploratory drilling was carried out in Abu Dhabi in 1947, although the first success did not come until 1958. In 1960 sites worth exploitation were opened up some 70 miles west of the capital.

The oil company did not attempt to secure extensions of concessions in the remaining emirates, where drilling had brought no success. Its exploration was concentrated in Abu Dhabi and the company was renamed the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Company (ADPC). Its concession was limited to the mainland of the emirate; the coastal shelf was explored by the Abu Dhabi Marine Areas, Ltd., (ADMA), a subsidiary of British Petroleum, and by the Compagnie Française de Pétrole (CFP). Mainland oil was exported as early as 1960, whereas the first export of off-shore oil was made in 1962. In 1963 the export of oil from the Emirate already amounted to 2,388 million t (see Fenelon 1973).

Expectations that Abu Dhabi would undergo development similar to that of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Dubai (see Morris 1974) proved wrong. Shakhbout bin Sultan accumulated the oil royalties and resisted any new development of the area. The result was a general dissatisfaction among the tribes and within the ruling family.

The sheikh's regime was characterized by, first, the relations between the ruler and his family, and secondly by relations between the ruler and the tribes. Traditionally loyalty was a prime tribal virtue and the mainstay of domestic politics; it now threatened to collapse. The principle of loyalty had evolved into a relationship between the ruler and the tribes which rested on an instrumental, quasi-contractual base characterized by favours, particularly subsidies, accorded by the ruler and allegiance and acquiescence accorded by the tribes (see Hopwood 1972; Scholz 1976). The increasing tendency of individual tribes to affiliate and associate with the tribe or ruler whose economic bases clearly differed from those of the others had already been noted by Lorimer (1915).

The public demands on Shakhbout bin Sultan grew enormously, especially in view of this quasi-contractual relationship and the growing oil revenues. Indeed, when the sheikh remained adamant, three sub-tribes of the Bani Yas, the Manasir, and the Dawahir tribe renounced their loyalty to the ruler and emigrated to Qatar. It seemed that the work of unifying the tribes of Abu Dhabi, begun by Sheikh Shakhbout bin Diab (reigned 1793 - 1816) and continued by Sheikh Zayed bin Khalifa (reigned 1855 - 1909), as well as the rule of the Al Nabyan family which had existed since the end of the eighteenth century was about to collapse (see Abu Dhabi 1969; Hopwood 1972). However, under public and family pressure Shakhbout was forced to abdicate on 6 August 1966.

He was succeeded by his brother, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, the governor of al-Ain, who attempted to meet public demands in order to secure popular support. Three points may be noted here.

  1. When Zayed came to power, vast financial means were available as a result of oil developments and its revenues. Zayed increased oil production and the state income rose from 7.4 million pounds (UK) in 1965 to 29.9 million pounds in 1967.
  2. Zayed has, also, a rapport with the tribal traditions of Abu Dhabi. He is of bedouin origin and retains emotional ties to bedouin life styles and to the tribal groups which practice them. These ties have led to his de facto rise in the estimation of Abu Dhabians, who have been accorded a special role as the embodiment of "Arabness" (Anthony 1975) and of the pure Arab tradition (Anthony 1975; Scholz 1976). Thus, although the political system of Abu Dhabi is largely modelled on Western exemplars, the domestic policies are characterized by traditional tribal customs and values; for example, the traditional channels of communication (majlis) are kept open.
  3. Zayed furthermore secured the support of the ruling family for his policies by allowing their participation in the government. The government list, published 18 September 1966, assigned all nine departments to the ruling family (see Sadik and Snavely 1972).

It is the restoration of the principle of loyalty which must be considered the stimulus for the socio-economic development of Abu Dhabi.

The beginning of this development was marked by, among other things, the establishment of five primary schools, the appointment of four doctors, the opening of a power station, and the construction of some 145 km of tarmac road connecting the capital and the interior of Abu Dhabi. And the goals of the development policies can be summarized by saying that the government pursued: (a) the development of all parts of the emirate, attempting a comprehensive elimination of general backwardness through the planned use of the national wealth; (b) the diversification of the national economy with the goal of becoming independent of oil; and (c) the integration of the local population into the socio-economic development of the emirate.

In order to realize these development policies, a complex of specific measures was initiated, including (a) the establishment of a basic institutional infrastructure for administrative functions, comprising the diwan administration and government departments and branch offices at Abu Dhabi and the regional sub-centres at al-sin and Beda Zayed; (b) the setting up of a fundamental technical infrastructure of communications systems, public transport, water supply, and electric supply; (c) the establishment of a basic social infrastructure of free education, medical care, housing, and social services; and (d) the creation of a comprehensive economic infrastructure of development of all facets of production. Development centres are the capital area, the eastern region with its sub-centre (al-Ain), and the western region sub-centre (Beda Zayed).

Because of their traditional way of life and economic habits the predominantly bedouin population of Abu Dhabi Emirate took no active part in the development of the country. Thus the need for labour was met by employing foreigners, although non-natives had had only marginal importance in the traditional pattern of social relationships (Hopwood 1972; Heard-Bey 1975), and they occupied the lowest rank in the social hierarchy, that of slaves. Now, however, nonnatives became important for they planned and directed the new development. A chain immigration into Abu Dhabi as the result of a push-pull effect (Fenelon 1973) was initiated. In 1968 the number of non-natives in relation to the total population of Abu Dhabi was 50 per cent; in 1977 it was 66 per cent, in 1978, 75 per cent, and in early 1979 it was 85 per cent

This non-native population has created a problem. On the on hand, foreigners are vital to the development of the country;

on the other hand, the "distinct ethnic anomaly" constitutes a political risk to the stability of the state. The government has realized, however, that total reliance on foreign labour can not and should not be a permanent thing, and in the face of the growing number of non-natives it has intensified measures to integrate the indigenous population into the socioeconomic development process.

The measures taken are for the most part designed to encourage the bedouin population to participate actively in the labour process and, by means of carefully planned settlement policies, to encourage them to settle permanently. In addition, numerous incentives have been developed which should not only enable the bedouins to take part in the national development but, in the long run, should put them in a position to carry on this development themselves.

Great differences exist between the development of Abu Dhabi and that of the other emirates. The co-operative programmes and projects mentioned at the beginning of this report but not specifically discussed in the preceding text were not introduced in Abu Dhabi which has developed its own programmes and projects.

The decision-maker behind most of these plans is Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi's government departments are responsible for both planning and executing end development schemes and three administrative regions have been established. The authority in the central and western regions, aside from the Diwan in Beda Zayed, lies with the government departments in Abu Dhabi, and authority for the eastern region lies with their branches offices in al-Ain. The administrative divisions involved are: the Diwan; municipality, agriculture, and forestry departments; town planning department; social services department; water and electricity department; public works department.

The various agencies, individually or collectively, plan and supervise direct measures for the development of the rural bedouin areas. The development measures include the following: low-cost housing; women's development centres; actions designed to guarantee the continuation of animal husbandry in the rural bedouin areas; the creation of jobs in the rural bedouin areas. Indirect measures which contribute toward the development of the rural bedouin areas include government support for planned construction in the urban area of the emirate, and the granting of shops to bedouins in the markets of Abu Dhabi and al-Ain. Some general development measures such as the road network, the health service, and the educational systems, and the individual programmes and projects will be discussed separately in detail below.

TABLE 10. Internal Roads in Abu Dhabi and al-sin 1974 - 1976 (in km, cumulative)

  1974 1975 1976
Abu Dhabi 225 293 406
al-Ain 161 176 221

Source: Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 97, table 108.

General Development Measures for the Rural Bedouin Regions

1. The Development of the Road Networks

Until the change of government in 1966, there were scarcely any roads in Abu Dhabi emirate. Only toward the end of his rule did Shakhbout approve, unwillingly, the construction of an asphalt road between Abu Dhabi and al-Ain. It was completed in June 1966 and was 145 km long (Tomkinson 1975, p. 110). After this the Ministry for Public Works began to construct internal roads in Abu Dhabi and al-sin on 19 October 1966, and by the end of 1972 100 km of roads had been opened in Abu Dhabi and 42 km in al-sin (see table 10 for further statistics).

A second step opened up the emirate at the infrastructural level and connected it with neighbouring emirates and states. Construction of the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway began in 1970. The two-lane road, 128 km long (entering Dubai after 73 km) was completed in 1973. Where about 200 automobiles had used the dirt road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, traffic density rose to an average of 1,600 cars per day (Public Works 1973, p. 34).

In 1971 the contract for the five-stage construction of a road between Abu Dhabi and Sila (near the Qatar border) was signed. The first stage covers the stretch from Marfaq to Tarif (112 km); the second stage the stretch (51 km) from Tarif to Beda Zayed (a new settlement for permanently settled bedouins); the third stage Tarif to Jabal Dhana (113 km); the fourth, Jabal Dhana to Sila (110 km); the final Beda Zayed to Liwa (130 km). The first, second, and fourth stretches were completed in 1976, and the third stretch was 90 per cent complete at that time (Statistical) Yearbook 1976, p. 98, table 109).

The expansion of the road network continued until the end of 1978.

The Abu Dhabi-al-sin and Abu Dhabi-Dubai highways were expanded to four-lane freeways. A sixth construction stage of the Abu Dhabi-Sila stretch links the emirate with Qatar. A 20-km-long asphalt road connects al-sin with the Sultanate of Oman (the road to Sohar); another highway connects al-sin with Dubai.

Several new highways traverse the rural areas of the emirate. More than 60 per cent of the Abu Dhabi-Sewenan- al-sin stretch has been opened up to traffic. A road 78 km long connects al-sin with al-Wijan; the road will be extended to Medisis; 14 km of new asphalt roads connect new settlements with the main Abu Dhabi-al-sin freeway. The road from Beda Zayed into the Liwa has already been graded and partly asphalted (Public Works 1976, pp. 89 - 98).

2. Medical Care and Health Services

Medical care in Abu Dhabi was first instituted by the government as table 11 reveals.

In 1967 a 50-bed hospital in Abu Dhabi Town and an American mission hospital in al-sin were opened. The completion of a 150-bed hospital in Abu Dhabi Town and a 25 bed hospital in al-sin followed at the beginning of 1971. At the end of 1978, in-patient treatment was being provided by four hospitals in Abu Dhabi Town, two hospitals in al Ain, a hospital in Beda Zayed, and a tuberculosis sanitarium in Assaad, 22 km from al-Ain. A military hospital in Abu Dhabi Town and a 510-bed hospital in al-sin were planned to open in mid- 1979. A contract for the construction of the largest hospital in Abu Dhabi with 524 beds was signed in 1977. Another hospital is to be constructed in the immediate vicinity of the sanitarium in Assaad, The increase in the number of hospital beds (table 12) is evidence of the development that has taken place in the area of medical care.

TABLE 11. Number of Doctors, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 1965 - 1976

  Government doctors Private doctors
1965 1 3
1967 11 7
1970 na na
1973 na 22
1974 131 29
1975 288 32
1976 379 45 na = not available

Sources: Sadik and Snavely 1972, p. 99; Fenelon 1973, p. 109: Statistical Yearbook 1976, pp. 28, 29, table 30, 31.

TABLE 12. Hospital Beds, Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 1970 - 1976

  Number of beds
1970 145
1971 205
1972 431
1973 472
1974 517
1975 616
1976 859

Sources: Partners in Progress 1976, p. 64; Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 12, table 13.

The emirate government had already taken steps toward providing dental care for its people by 1968. Mobile dental stations, purchased in Great Britain, were put into use to provide dental treatment even in the peripheral regions.

The doctors and nursing staff working in Abu Dhabi are, in general, foreigners. Natives usually fill positions in the field of medical care that require either no or only very limited qualifications and which are not specialized.

Medical care in the rural areas is provided by clinics in each new settlement and by the central hospitals. The clinics are usually staffed by two doctors (a man and a woman) who divide their treatment according to the patient's sex. In addition to providing medical care they counsel patients in matters of nutrition, instruct them in general hygiene, and stress the importance of regular check-ups and of infant care.

The ambulance allotted to each clinic ensures transport of patients needing in-patient treatment to the central hospitals, and in emergencies helicopters of the Abu Dhabi Air Force are called upon. There are central hospitals for the central region in Abu Dhabi Town; for the eastern region in al-Ain; and for the western province in Beda Zayed.

Medical care for the native population and for those with a residence visa is free. For cases of illnesses which cannot be treated in Abu Dhabi or the UAE, the emirate government assumes all costs for treatment abroad.

The population's use of the medical services is documented in table 13. The effectiveness of the services in one instance, the reduction of malaria, is shown in table 14.

3. The Development of the Educational System

The need for skilled workers and educated management personnel in order to avoid heavy dependence on foreign labour must be met by long-range educational policies. The Abu Dhabi government gives education the highest priority and funds for education represent the largest item in the country's budget.

During the school year 1969/70, of the 320 teachers in the emirate, only four were natives. The others were from neighbouring Arab states (Sadik and Snavely 1972, p. 91, tables 3-26). As table 15 shows, the number of teachers rose dramatically in the years that followed.

TABLE 13. Demands on Medical Care (Selected Examples), Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 1972 - 1976

  1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
Dental care 33,229 44,125 44,739 50,500 78,163
Live births
(government hospitals)
3,632 4,730 5,801 6,805 8,354
Prescriptions issued - - 807,962 986,845 1,239,845
Hospital admissions - - 22,688 27,801 35,130

TABLE 14. Decrease in Malaria, Emirate of Abu Dhabi,1972 - 1976

  1972 1973 1974 1975 1976
Cases 1,305 856 348 267 265

Source: Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 32, table 35.

TABLE 15. Teachers at Government Schools, Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Year Teachers
1973/74 835
1974/75 1,130
1975/76 1,460

Source: Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 33, table 36.

TABLE 16. Increase in Number of Government Schools, Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Year Schools
1960 - 1963 3
1963 - 1967 5
1967/68 9
1968/69 21
1969/70 25
1970/71 25
1971/72 29
1972/73 43
1973/74 54
1974/75 64
1975/76 77

Source: Statistical Yearbook 1974, p. 23, table 15; Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 33, table 36.

TABLE 17. Adult Education, Emirate of Abu Dhabi

Year Adult pupils
1968/69 1,735
1969/70 1,007
1970/71 2,272
1971/72 2,453
1972/73 2,586
1973/74 3,298
1974/75 3,894
1975/76 5,119

Source: Statistical yearbook 1974, p. 29, table 21; Statistical Year book 1976, p. 41, table 49.

The increased number of native teachers has proved a disadvantage to their foreign colleagues. Discussions with the latter in the summer of 1978 revealed that they are neither socially nor physically integrated into the new rural settlements and that they retain the status of outsiders. The native population shows them traditional bedouin hospitality, but they are regarded as foreigners and their ideas are adopted hesitantly.

The new "imported" educational system of Abu Dhabi is based on foreign standards and values, and its curricula are determined by foreign content and goals. Thus for example, the curricula do not include the teaching of the traditional principles and values of the Koran and Hadith, or accord them only marginal notice. The spiritual values and knowledge developed by Muslim thinkers over the centuries are for the most part ignored. The new educational system also apparently fails to awaken an interest in the pupils and fails to motivate them to learn.

The yearly Koran schools, held during the summer vacations (for attendance at which the government makes a one-time payment of 400 dirhams) and the mosques (in 1977 alone 24 new mosques were opened) are a weak counterbalance to the schools. The disparity between traditional and modern education is evident. A revision of the curricula to reflect new goals and new content, and to integrate the Koran schools within the curricula, is necessary if the educational aims are to be reached.

The first primary school in the emirate was opened in 1958. The first preparatory school followed in 1966 and the first secondary school in 1967. Adult education classes also began in 1967. The first university in the UAE was founded in 1977 in al-Ain. Although in 1966 there were only five primary schools, in the school year 1968/69 all levels of education were available in the emirate ( Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 34, table 37). Table 16 illustrates the development of schools.

In 1968 only 25 per cent of all children in the five to-nine age group went to primary school (Sadik and Snavely 1972, p. 87). In 1975/76 the figure had risen to 50 per cent (author's figure based on Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 5, table 5, and p. 36, table 40), although there has been mandatory school attendance for children between the ages of six and twelve since 1971. During the school year 1975/76 the ratio of pupils in primary schools to those in secondary schools was 3:1 (Statistical Yearbook 1976, p. 36, table 40).

One reason for the low attendance at schools lies in the instructional personnel and the curricula. For the rural areas of the emirate, a further reason is that the new settlements, with the exception of Beda Zayed, have only primary schools. The government's offer to provide further education in boarding schools in Abu Dhabi Town and a Ain has been accepted only to a limited extent. Boarding school education runs counter to traditional life patterns, and parents, who have had no formal schooling themselves, have a negative attitude toward the long-term necessity and usefulness of education. The adult education programme is an attempt to change this attitude.

In 1976 evening courses in adult education were given at 36 of the 77 public schools in the emirate. Illiterate adults are taught to read and write and are given an opportunity to earn a primary-school certificate in a three-year course. Although the number of adults participating in evening courses has been steadily rising, the number of potential participants is much greater. Development of adult education is shown in table 17.

The number of pupils at the Occupational Training Centre in Abu Dhabi is declining (table 18) and this provides evidence for the conclusion that there is very limited motivation toward formal schooling and further education.

The government provides incentives for school attendance in the form of free instructional materials, school clothing, transportation to and from school, and payment of "school money." The school-money payments rise according to the grade in school. They run between 70 dirhams for the first grade of primary school to 500 dirhams for the last grade of secondary school but are also made for attendance at all secondary occupational schools and at the university. Nevertheless, there is widespread reluctance to participate in the educational programmes.

TABLE 18. Matriculation at the Occupational Training Centre, Abu Dhabi, by Nationality

  1973174 1974/75 1975/76
UAE 55 46 27
Gulf states 39 62 54
Other Arab countries - 16 79
Total 94 124 160

Source: Tatsachen und Fakten 1976, p. 54, table 36.

An important, even decisive, reason for this is the government's own policy: all efforts to raise the educational level of the people are bound to be ineffective or to fail so long as the government continues to provide sources of income, new means of earning a livelihood, and new fields of employment which demand no educational qualifications. This practice not only obscures the necessity of education but it eliminates it. Why go to school if you can earn an excellent living without doing so!

In 1975 the federal Ministry of Culture and Information established Culture Caravans, mobile units that show sound films designed to spread knowledge of socio-economic and cultural developments to even the most remote areas of the emirate. Between Arab entertainment films the audiences are shown so-called educational films. In contrast to reactions to education and the Women's Development Programme, the native population has responded well to the Culture Caravans. One of the two persons in charge of a unit is an Emirati, and it is his task to introduce the topics of the films and to arouse interest in these topics. At the present time there are two units in Abu Dhabi Town and one in al-Ain.

The introduction of television was greeted eagerly in Abu Dhabi. The TV set has won a firm place in the home, and even on the most distant settlements of the Liwa the portable set and television antennas on the farmsteads have become ordinary sights of everyday life. It would seem, though, that the educational influence which television could have has been underestimated by the government. In this author's opinion, there are still too few educational films on Abu Dhabi television and too little care is exercised in the selection of programmes.

FIG 6. Low-Cost Housing Settlements, Abu Dhabi Emirate, 1978

Direct Measures for the Development of the Rural Bedouin Regions

1. Low-Cost Housing Settlements in Abu Dhabi Emirate

Apart from a few fishing settlements on the Arabian Gulf, there was only one permanent settlement other than the capital until the 1960s, the oasis of al-sin on the Oman border, made up of nine settlement units. The other settlements in the emirate were all temporary.

However, during the course of the country's general development, the structure of the settlements underwent profound changes. The two permanent settlements became development centres, attracting the flood of foreign labour which poured into the country. Thus, in 1968, 50 per cent of the emirate's population was concentrated in the capital area (Sadik and Snavely 1972). The traditional barastis made from palm-frond mats gave way to modern buildings several storeys high, constructed of stone blocks and concrete, which were European in style and had European facilities. These provided accommodations primarily for highly qualified, skilled foreign labourers and were also the locales for the subsidiary industries which were rapidly emerging.

The government authorities had already attempted to provide for the local population in the new settlement structures. A low-cost housing project in Qatar, planned in 1964 and completed in 1965, served as a model for the low cost housing settlement in the capital in 1966 (Sadik and Snavely 1972), and when Zayed came into power two other such settlements were built in Abu Dhabi. The houses were built and equipped according to European standards and were distributed rent-free to the population, but the three settlements were not considered successes.

The abrupt change from traditional ways of life and the transition to permanent urban living led to profound disturbances in the life styles and economic habits of the families which had so suddenly become sedentary. They abandoned the urban dwellings and returned to their traditional areas of subsistence, and this initial failure led to a revision of the government's measures.

The settlements since that time have been located in relationship to the road network and economic centres of the emirate and in the traditional areas of subsistence. Traditional modes of bedouin life and economic habits have influenced the planning and structuring of the settlements and a range of educational, social, and economic opportunities designed to integrate the local populations in the new settlements has been created.

FIG. 7. Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, Land Use, 1978

Since these revised policies were introduced, the bedouin population of Abu Dhabi has been able to retain selected elements of traditional life while at the same time it has successfully adopted certain innovations. Bedouins are now able to enter socio-economic and geographic areas formerly unknown to them without losing their social and economic orientation and without moving down the social scale. The term "half-way settlement" for the new housing in the bedouin areas is appropriate. A chain migration now occurs among the local population since the completion of the new settlements in the rural areas, a response which signals the success of the government's measures.

Between 1968 and 1976 the government expanded the urban settlements of Abu Dhabi and al-sin by 3,366 low cost housing units. In addition, 18 new permanent settlements with 910 low-cost houses were built in the rural bedouin area during that period (see Statistical/ Yearbook 1976, p. 116, table 127), and 11 more settlements were built by May 1978 (see fig. 6). While the increase in the number of low-cost houses built in urban areas exceeded that in rural areas during the late 1960s and early 1970s, that trend is no longer apparent.

In mid 1978 the Social Service Department in Abu Dhabi Town had 43 applications for settlement in the emirate from families, nomad groups, and sub-tribes. The applicants came from the emirate of Abu Dhabi, from other emirates, and from the sultanate of Oman. According to the Social Service Department, they would be settled in already existing new towns or in the new urban settlement of Bani Yas Town in which several thousand housing units had already been completed or are under construction.

During the last few years the four major lines of communication traversing the emirate have been completed: they are the Abu Dhabi-al-Ain Expressway (1966), the Abu Dhabi-Dubai Expressway (1972, 1975), the road from Abu Dhabi to Qatar (1978), and the road from al-sin to Dubai (1978). These roads connect the centres of development and new settlements in the rural bedouin areas are either linked to these roads directly (of 15 new settlements, 9 are located on the Abu Dhabi-al-Ain Expressway) or indirectly by well-built tributary roads. Figure 6 depicts the infrastructural development of the rural bedouin area.

FIG 8. Ground Plan of Traditional Barasti (hut), Abu Dhabi Emirate

All new settlements in the rural bedouin areas of Abu Dhabi have a certain number of low-cost houses, and other more spacious houses for teachers and technical and medical personnel, a school, a clinic, a mosque, a market with shops, and a generator (see fig. 7).

The low-cost houses themselves follow a typical pattern in which the floor plan and functional lay-out are derived from the traditional barasti, a dwelling built of palm-branch mats, as a comparison of figure 8 and figure 9 shows. They are different from the types built by the Federal Ministry for Housing and Public Works and are of a higher quality. Although they are built to serve the basic needs of their inhabitants, they also include innovations appropriate to urban life; for instance, the kitchen and sanitary facilities are integrated into the dwelling unit. Low-cost houses take individual needs into account by leaving ample room for construction modifications. Sheikh Zayed personally makes the choice of the low-cost house models and of any necessary changes.

The lay-out of new towns usually reflects that of the traditional, temporary bedouin settlements. Settlements are made up of one or several, often parallel, rows of houses and the number of dwellings in a row is always less than 20, the average size of a migration group

The genealogical principle which strictly governs the arrangement of housing in traditional settlements (see fig. 10) is a determining factor in new settlements only when a closed tribal unit takes up residence (see fig. 11). This is, however, the exception. When more than one tribal unit settles in a new town, the Social Service Department grants blocks of dwellings to each clan or tribe so that individual bedouin families are not isolated from each other. Even in the new urban settlement of Bani Yas Town in the rural bedouin area of Abu Dhabi, the department is taking into consideration traditional inner-tribal and inter-tribal social divisions and segregations.

FIG. 9. Low-Cost Housing Unit, Abu Dhabi Emirate, 1978