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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


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