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Sustainable Desert Development: A Case Study of Al Jazeera Al Hamra

Samar Zarifa
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The commercial developments lining the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula that have emerged within the past decade have various implications for the environment, economy, and society as a whole. In particular, this paper is interested in the relationship between residents’ perceptions of the coastal landscapes that are being created and the effects of such extensive developments, including their demands on water. Less than 50 years ago, this arid region consisted of a few tribes who collected water from nearby wells and springs. After the rise of the oil industry in the 1970s, however, the United Arab Emirates’ growing population and burgeoning economy introduced desalination plants to sustain the people and irrigate lush landscapes, which require significant amounts of energy and infrastructure.


Located in Ras Al Khaimah, Al Jazeera Al Hamra is one of the only full standing abandoned villages in the Gulf region and carries a rich history and once critical coastal location. This paper will profile the village as a prototype for coastal developments in arid environments. Inspired by the traditional practices of the region’s inhabitants, this paper introduces a design model that integrates several factors. These include the types of visual references represented in the Gulf region, people’s contemporary lifestyles, water saving techniques, and the effects of these proposals on the surrounding environment.

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Author affiliation: Samar Zarifa, American University in Dubai

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.18502/aqf.0025

Recommended citation: Zarifa, S. (2014). Sustainable Desert Development: A Case Study of Al Jazeera Al Hamra (Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research Policy Paper No. 9). doi:10.18502/aqf.0025