Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Science

First Advisor

Fadhil N. Sadooni

Second Advisor

Dr. Salem Essa

Third Advisor

Dr. Hussein Harah heh


The present work represents an attempt to detect changes induced by both natural and anthropogenic activities to the coastal area extending between the cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This area is dominated by islands, bars, tidal channels and embayment regimes and flanked by coastal sabkhas that give way to the great sand dunes, which represent an extension of the Empty Quarter desert.

The area is also characterized by the existence of many aquatic systems such as coral reefs and the oolitic shoals around Abu Dhabi city. It was the site of many human activities in the pre-oil era, such as pearl diving.

During the last three decades, the study area has witnessed deep and widespread changes as part of the urbanization process that has impacted the whole United Arab Emirates. Examples of such activities include coastal modification, large scale construction, oil well drilling and many other similar activities, some of which are really big in scale. Such activities have affected significantly the components of the natural ecosystems as well as the physical and chemical properties of the area, including its geomorphology and topography.

In the study, some of these changes were traced and detected using remote sensing and direct visual observation, such as ground truthing where ever possible. The study focused on visual analysis mainly due to the scarcity of old data from the pre-oil era. However, wherever possible a quantitative approach was attempted when data was available.

Maj or changes in the studied area are in the form of large scale urbanization in residential, commercial and industrial development of both continental and aquatic environments. Some of these are of a drastic scale and have affected significantly the pristine environment.

These changes were detected and contrasted from the available images and then documented using ground photography. In some cases, vector layers were extracted and superimposed to give an idea about the extent of such changes.

Such studies are essential to document the baseline environmental and man-made environmental components and to trace changes over time. These studies should be part of the future coastal management in the United Arab Emirates.