Bulletin 19 - March 1983: Editorial


This issue of the Bulletin begins the seventh year of ENHG activities and it is fair to say that the Group has now corne of age. It holds an established place in the Abu Dhabi calendar of regular 'cultural' activities, and is recognised by several overseas institutions. Yet we must beware the complacency that such a situation brings since after all the Group's affairs are organised at present by expatriates for expatriates. Similar, older societies in cities like Singapore and Bombay have over the years managed to attract nationals of those countries in large numbers; indeed, such societies are run by nationals. Like other natural history groups in the Arab world, however, the ENHG survives in an environment where effective linguistic and cultural barriers exist to deter integration. As in Singapore and India, it may all be a matter of time. There are signs, however, of a changing awareness in the UAE and other Arab countries. Press and TV coverage of environmental and wildlife issues is increasing for a primarily Arabic-speaking audience, and a flora of the UAE has recently been published in Arabic. The ENHG is exclusive due to the nature of its origins and the fact that such an approach to the study of natural history is a very British phenomenon; even the French in Abu Dhabi express some bewilderment about our 'raison 'd'etre'.

It is important, therefore, that the Group publicises its activities and makes its data available in Arabic. Arabic articles in the Bulletin are a start, but more effort must be made to attract a serious bilingual membership. After all, this is the only way in which the Group may be expected to survive here, given the large turnover of expatriate members plus the fact that our recordings will at some stage be recognised as being a useful contribution by public and educational authorities in the UAE.


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