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International Society for Horticultural Science

Horticulture Research International

United Arab Emirates

Climate
Temperature change throughout the seasons and the coastal zones are much more buffered, whereas high differences are found in the southern areas .In winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) coastal areas are slightly warmer (>20 °C) than terrestrial areas, and the eastern mountains (18-20 °C). In spring (Mar, Apr, May) the mountains and Gulf Coast are still relatively cool (<27 °C), but temperature in the southern terrestrial areas and the East Coast are relatively high (27-29 °C or higher). This is even more obvious in the summer months (Jun, Jul, and Aug), when temperatures of the central desert exceed 35 °C and the mountain and coastal temperatures stay below 33 °C. In autumn temperatures all over the country are very similar (27-29 °C), except for some location in the mountains, where it is slightly cooler (<27 °C), and for the northeastern coastal areas, where it is slightly warm (>29 °C). Generally the average monthly rainfall is considerably higher in the mountain region (140-200 mm), and the East Coast (100-140 mm), in comparison to the gravel plains (100-120 mm) and the lowest average records are from the West Coast (<60 mm). Thus, there is a continuous gradient of increasing precipitation from the southwest towards the Northeast. However, due to the average precipitation regime we can expect more rainfall towards the mountains, and towards the northeast.

Geography
The seven emirates (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Qiwain, Ras al Khaimah and Fujairah) of the UAE enclose a total area of about 83,600 km2 (including the islands). Lying at the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula between 20.5° and 26° N and 51° and 56° E. To the west lies the Arabian Gulf and Qatar; to the north Oman; to the east the Gulf of Oman and the Sultanate of Oman; and to the south Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter). The UAE is roughly crescent-shaped and extends for about 420 km from north to south. Most of the country is desert, with a flat coastal plain consisting mostly of tidal salt flats. The land slopes down from the mountains in the country's northeastern extremity to an elevated desert plateau. The plateau then slopes gently northward to the coast and westward to the Sabkhat Matti, a huge salt flat that spreads into Saudi Arabia. Because of the country's sandy soil, only 1 percent of its land is cultivated. Palm, Acacia, and Tamarisk trees grow naturally in oases and along the coast and hardy shrubs and grasses survive in the desert. Irrigation around the major oases and cities supports the growth of other vegetation.

Horticulture
While the soil and arid climate conditions do not provide an ideal ground for the development of agriculture in the UAE, nevertheless, using modern technology, the agriculture sector has made considerable progress in the past two decades.
It has continued to grow steadily each year. Growth has been largely achieved by increasing areas under cultivation. Total cultivated area was 675,000 donums in 1995. In the five years 1990-95,total agriculture area grew at approximately 11% per annum despite the difficult conditions. Coastal soils have a high salt concentration, making them unsuitable for agriculture except for high salt-tolerance crops. In addition, the sandy soil in the hinterland is high in potassium.

Distribution of Horticulture
Traditional farms such as those in Ras Al-Khaimah, Dhaid, Falaj Al-Mu'alla and Fujairah have been complemented by many new areas where desert has been transformed into land that sustains trees, crops and livestock. Vast fields of cereals cultivated around the Liwa oasis bear testament to the country's readiness to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself in the area of food production. Large areas in the UAE, and in particular within the emirate of Abu Dhabi, have been first irrigated and then planted with trees, and finally used for agriculture. Major Squot; greening projects Squot; may now be seen at Bani Yas, Al-Ajban, Al-Rahba, Al-Baheya, Rawdat Al-Reef and Al-Jurf. The latter region, 100 kilometers northeast of Abu Dhabi, is a relatively recent addition to the list. Spread over 8,000 hectares, it is distinctive for its location on the Arabian Gulf and for its trees and gardens. Like the other major farms in which the President's Private Department plays an important role, Al-Jurf is a prime example of what can be achieved in terms of combating desertification. In 1996, the Al-Jurf area contained 1,669,000 date-palm trees and 368 coconut trees, together with 2,000 fruit trees, including mango, grapevines, guava, lemons, figs and bananas. Sheikh Zayed has paid particular interest to improving the quality of life in rural areas and in the equitable redistribution of wealth. Land has been granted, which, together with attractive financial grants, loans to purchase equipment and the provision of technical expertise and practical assistance, has resulted in over 100,000 hectares more land being brought under cultivation. The number of farms has increased from 5,000 in 1972 to over 20,000 in 1997. Farm production has soared and a high degree of self-sufficiency has now been reached in vegetable, fruit, dairy and other farm products.
As a result of Sheikh Zayed's initiatives, the inexorable move from rural settlements to the main cities has been stemmed, in part at least, by schemes to provide modern housing and other facilities in proximity to new farming areas.
The UAE's agricultural development has been well documented. From a situation of subsistence farming in the early 1970s, the food sector has grown rapidly to become one of the most sophisticated in the region, in the process transforming the country into a fruit and vegetable exporter. The UAE produced almost 720,000 tons of vegetables in 1995. The major crops are tomato, squash and cabbage. Fruit trees occupy almost 50% of the total cultivated area, though date-palm trees take up most of this. Vegetables occupy less than one fourth of the total area, but have the largest share in output, both in quantity and value .At Al-Jurf, Al-Ajban and on the island of Sir Bani Yas, a huge experimental farm on which apples, pears, oranges, pineapples, bananas and olives are all flourishing. Experimental coffee planting has also been recently undertaken there.
The model farming units employ advanced methods of irrigation such that green houses in Fujairah, for example, increased production of cucumber from 1.1 tons to 1.5 tons, and tomatoes from 300-380 kilograms. The model farms help to spread the latest information on agricultural methods among farmers, and maximize the efficiency of water use - a most important consideration throughout the Emirates. Finally they help to ensure that farming remains compatible with a healthy environment. Handicapped people assist with food production.

Nature of Institutes
All experimental stations, either, belong to the federal government of the UAE or to the local governments.

Organisations / Institutes:
UAE Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
Abu Dhabi Department of Agriculture and Animal Resources
The Islamic Development Bank
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (APRP)
The United Arab Emirates University


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