Bulletin 1 - March 1977: Introduction


by the Chairman
John Stewart-Smith

I am very glad to have been elected the first Chairman of the newly formed Emirates Natural History Group (Abu Dhabi). Although my personal interest centres on ornithology I'm certain that the Committee and Members will ensure that the ENHG will maintain and encourage much more catholic interests covering not only all aspects of natural history but also including archaeology and several facets of the history of the United Arab Emirates.

The idea of forming a Natural History Group within the United Arab Emirates has been mooted several times in the past but it took the combined talents of Annette Allen and Bish Brown to actually get this group going -- and we seem to have got off to a really good start with almost 100 members already.

We must expect to have a few growing pains and I have no doubt that the coming years will see changes in the Group activities. Personally, I think that this is a good thing. Our Constitution has been specifically written on a broad base to allow us freedom to follow any line of development attractive to our members.

We have been fortunate from the beginning of our Group to have had some excellent guest speakers. Our first speaker was Professor Colin Bertram of St. John's College, Cambridge who is the leading authority on Sirenia (Sea Cows). A summary of his very interesting talk appears in this Bulletin, and there has been some interesting news about the Dugong in this area. Subsequently, last December we persuaded three delegates attending the International Convention on Falconry and Conservation to address one of our meetings.

The majority of our speakers will, of necessity, be members of the ENHG but I would ask all members who have contact with likely speakers to let the Committee know about their presence in the Emirates as far ahead of time as possible so that they may be persuaded to speak to one of our monthly meetings.

The Committee will be arranging various field (and sea) trips for members throughout the year. Naturally these trips will tend to be concentrated in the cooler weather between October and April each year. There are certain basic safety rules which must be observed before setting out into the desert or putting to sea in a dhow. These rules will be covered fully in the Bulletin but members who intend to join in on these trips must be fully aware that a drive to the Liwa is potentially much more hazardous than a picnic in the New Forest in England. Basic safety rules will be explained and members MUST accept these rules and obey them. Without appearing to be too blunt, if you are not prepared to follow the rules laid down by the leaders of these trips please don't try to join in as you will be a menace to yourself and to the others on the trip. Having got that unpleasantness off my chest I hope that I have not put anyone off joining in. The trips will be run to the best of our ability for the pleasure of all -- I hope that I have not made them sound like a forced march of prisoners under an armed guard!

Elsewhere in this Bulletin, and in future issues, you will find details of proposed field trips. John MacRae will be the co-ordinator for all these trips and if you (as a fully paid-up member) wish to participate please contact him at ADMA telephone Abu Dhabi 43129 as soon as possible. The Committee will always be glad of suggestions for field trips; so if you have found an interesting place within the UAE and don't mind sharing it, please let us know all about it an a trip will be arranged if possible. I should emphasize that all these trips will have to be financially self-supporting unless we can occasionally persuade some kind of organization to help with, for example, transportation.

Each Bulletin will contain a membership application form; please pass these on to anyone you know who may be interested in the aims of the ENHG.  I am particularly keen to encourage local people to join our Group, despite language problems. We are an English speaking Group, but we have several Arabists and I'm sure we could at least encourage the formation of an Arabic speaking section of the ENHG, if the demand existed.

The Editor of the Bulletin will always be glad to have contributions for publication.  It may be necessary to re-arrange or even precis some contributions, but any member of the Committee will always be willing to assist anyone who is unused to preparing contributions.

We do not (yet!) aim to produce a purely scientific journal.  The only criterion will be 'interest'. The Bulletin is designed as a link between members of the ENHG, and also between the ENHG and other similar groups. Some of the articles published may provocative (sic); that is to say we do not intend to print only fully documented scientific papers. If you have something to add to what you have read in this Bulletin or if you disagree with some statement please write to the Editor and tell her about it.

The Correspondence Pages of the Bulletin are designed to encourage the free exchange of ideas relating to the aim of the ENHG, but the Editor does reserve the right to precis or omit any letters at the discretion of the Editorial Committee.

Thank you all for joining the Emirates Natural History Group (Abu Dhabi). I hope that the Group will continue to flourish and expand in the future.



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Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan

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