Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


Development in the Desert. Field Research in Oasis: United Arab Emirates Cases (248) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Institute of Regional and Global Studies Warsaw University (Poland)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Izabella Lecka

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: In the panel, the team of 4 persons: Izabella Lecka, PhD.(geographer)Anna Dudek, PhD. (environmentalist) Marcin Solarz, PhD (political science)Miroslaw Mularczyk, PhD (urban studies)will present effects of field research in two group of oasis in Abu Dhabi Emirates (UAE): Al Ain and Liwa (in March 2008, February 2009 and February 2010).
The aim for this research was continuation of long-lasting theme in the Institute of Regional and Global Studies (former Institute of Developing Countries) concerning - development in the desert environment. Research in Al Ain and Liwa focus on searching answers on questions:
1. How those oasis are different compare to oasis in North Africa (ex. Farafra in Egypt, Sebha in Libya and Douz in Tunisia)?
2. How they differ to each other?
3. Which of the side effects of oasis development are positive and which are negative in such cases?
Field research is undertaken with staff of College of Humanities and Social Sciences United Arab Emirates University

Chair: Izabella Lecka (Institute of Regional and Global Studies Warsaw University)

Paper presenter: Mularczyk Miroslaw (PhD, Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies Warsaw University; University of Jan Kochanowski Kielce), ''Development in the Desert. North African Oasis versus Arabian Pennisula Oasis''
In the late 80 and in the early 90s of the twentieth century, oasis - either African as these are located on the Arabian Peninsula - seems to be depopulated irretrievably. Development of oil and industry, as well as visible at the time, improving quality of life in cities, was the cause for many young people to escape from the oases to the cities in search of a better, easier life. However, in poorer countries (North Africa) it soon became clear that life in the city is becoming increasingly difficult and the government launches a new agricultural projects in the oases, and so 10 years later became a noticeable influx of people to the oases from the poorer cities and agricultural areas. Meanwhile, in wealthier countries (oil countries on the Arabian Peninsula), the authorities attempted to maintain and beautify (not paying attention to costs), a place where they came from. And so now we can see, both in North Africa, as in the Arabian peninsula oases of extraordinary growth. However, these processes are very different depending on wealth, size and location of the country.

Paper presenter: Maciej Bartkowski (International Center on Nonviolent Conflict), “Spatial Development of Liwa Oasis”
Abu Dhabi, the richest of the seven member-states of the United Arab Emirates cover mostly by sandy desert and salty mud flats. Besides a coastal town and capital, the emirate has two natural centers for settled habitation: Buraimi oasis on the Omani border (in Abu Dhabi knows as Al-Ain oasis) and Liwa oasis close to Saudi Arabia border in the south. Liwa is a heartland for most of the Emiratis even if they are not living there permanently. Numerous Abu Dhabi citizens live in seaside towns but they are still keeping farms with palm trees, vegetables and animals (sheep, camels) in Liwa. Normally, expats from South Asian countries take care of the farms. Emirates’ owners are enjoying summer vacation there or some feast days. So the space is divided there between poor workers living just in the field (low class), prominently foreigner immigration of specialist mostly from other Arabic countries and India (middle class) and rich but quite traditional native citizens (high class). Actually the smallest space belongs to native citizens but is the most luxurious. The future plans concern increasing space for Emiratis (very well developed and managed) and for tourist (with the strong focus on utilities of the natural desert for adventure purpose). There are also some new housing constructions for a middle class but facing several problems.

Paper presenter: Solarz Marcin (PhD, Institute of Regional and Global Studies Warsaw University), ''Discovering the Contemporary Liwa Oasis in the Context of North-South Relations ''
The contemporary definition of high development should be focused not only on material wealth but also on human rights. Today to be high developed, i.e. to enjoy high quality of life it does not mean only to be reach, healthy and well educated, but also to be free, to live far from abusive and authoritarian government, to be able to move almost everywhere and write and say almost everything, to be witness to the rule of law and good governance in the country of living. Nowadays the North is the world of social-economic well-being and political freedoms. The South is the diverse rest. The new shape of the North and the South is very interesting and sometimes indeed really surprising. The old well-known Brandt’s line is not valid any more. However the UAE and Liwa oasis still belong to the South.

Paper presenter: Lecka Izabella (PhD, Institute of Regional and Global Studies Warsaw University), ''Population and Health Care in UAE, Western Region and Liwa Oasis''
Differentiation in origin of population in Liwa oasis is comparable to such situation in Western Region and in the whole country. But because of the specific localization - just in the middle of the Empty Quarter, desert with shifting dunes - is less populated compare to former time or to other places more close to Gulf. Oil discovery and growth of richness of the state pushed former inhabitants to move to the wealthy towns and to other job than farming and herding. These who are actually farming and herding are mostly from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Their living conditions are very simple with dangerous lack of drinking water and large numbers of those immigrants keeps very bad hygienic habits. All of these circumstances cause some typical diseases as diarrhea, anemia, eye diseases and injury. Fortunately in Liwa oasis lack of tropical diseases (typical for that area in pre-oil era). But anyway oasis are not free from that kind of danger as a foreigner’s workers like to visit homeland time to time. It means that they are moving temporary to places with malaria, denga, schistosomiasis, hepatitis and other disease frequently occurs in tropical poor areas. Last years in UAE and in Liwa itself sick workers can’t obtain medical treatment for free if they are not insured. Those with some serious communicable diseases are usually moved from the country. For many of workers necessity to back home and to quit good (from their perspective) job in Emirates is so dramatic. They prefer not to show the sickness as long as possible. One day this situation can be dangerous from epidemiological point of view.

Paper presenter: Anna Dudek (PhD, Institute of Regional and Global Studies Warsaw University), ''Liwa as a Tourist Resort''
Liwa Oasis in the Western Region of UAE is a special and very interesting place regarding tourist potential. The paper presents the results of field research, conducting in Liwa in 2009 by the group of Polish and Emirati scholars. The article discusses the possibility of tourism development and its determinants. It also presents major tourist attractions in this region as well as infrastructure e.g. hotels, transport etc.