Bulletin 31 - March 1987: Chairman's Report for 1986

Chairmanís Report for 1986

1986 has been a year of mixed fortunes for the ENHG. It started poorly with the workroom in the Federal Building still being renovated. As would be expected this curtailed our ability to carry out scientific work, and committee meetings had to be held in membersí homes.

When we did move in and finally get organized, rumors began to about that we would have to leave the ADMA fold completely. Rumor became fact, and we were told to vacate the premises by November 15th. Fortunately, we had reopened negotiations with the authorities at the Old Fort; these proved successful and we were allocated three rooms with a possibility of a fourth. We hastily occupied the rooms in October and are now in the process of making them presentable for visitors. It cannot be over-emphasized, however, that had it not been for the generous support of ADMA over the years the Group in all probability would not be in the good shape that it is today. Our thanks and appreciation go to ADMA for this support. Our thanks go also to Dr. Moayad Morsi who made our move to the Old Fort possible.

Although we therefore started the year in a hesitant fashion the Group has emerged stronger and several important objectives have been achieved. At the same time some weaknesses were identified and should be corrected in 1987.

Very briefly, on the positive side, the regular meetings with our Patron, HE Sheikh Nahayyan bin Mubarak al Nahayyan have proved fruitful and encouraging. His directions to the UAE University, resulting in that institution becoming heavily involved in the recent ENHG photographic competition, are highly commendable. As a result of a further directive we should now enjoy closer cooperation and support from the University that will become more apparent in the new year.

Two successful conventions with the Al Ain and Dubai Groups were held at the Hatta Fort Hotel during the year. This has resulted in an improvement in exchanges and should gather strength in the new year.

We have increased our overseas correspondence with eminent scientific establishments, including the Historical Association of Oman, whom we hope to visit in February.

Information on seabirds has been passed to the eminent ornithologist in Oman, Michael Gallagher. We have been very active in forwarding observations on turtles, dolphins, dugongs, whales etc. to the survey team that has been operating from Saudi Arabia under the auspices of the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Association. As yet there has been disappointingly little feedback. We continue to forward information as it becomes available to the coordinating committee for the Atlas of Breeding Birds of Arabia.

A collection of exotic flowers and shrubs was completed on behalf of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Two successful visits were made to the Old Fort, arranged and conducted by Dr. Frauke Heard-Bey, to whom we are most grateful.

The photographic competition, after many tense situations of which most members were never aware, was also a big success. The competition highlighted weaknesses in our pictorial records of the UAE, especially in archaeology, plants and mammals. The exhibition, staged by the Group for ADMAís National Day celebrations generated a great deal of interest and favorable press comment.

Members will be aware of the increasing publicity that the Group has been receiving in the national, and occasionally international, press. This is a result of a deliberate policy to increase public awareness of the ENHG and its activities. The ladies and gentlemen of the press have been well disposed to the ENHG. We thank them and ask for their continued support.

Membership on 1st December stood at 160, made up of 119 single and 41 family members. When the number of people leaving Abu Dhabi is taken into consideration, the fact that we have greatly increased membership is encouraging and bodes well for the future.

Twenty meetings, including two AGMís, were held throughout the year, with two meetings being cancelled.

Two very important projects for the future have been presented to our Patron on behalf of the Group. One, which could be of national importance, is the possible creation of a nature reserve in the Eastern Lagoon. HE our Patron is personally in favor of the scheme and he will present our detailed projection to His Highness the President who, we believe, has already shown interest. The other project was for a small portable telescope and computer for astronomy here and in Al Ain. Our Patron very generously offered to pay for the equipment to be used in Abu Dhabi. This will literally stretch our horizons and should create great interest here in the capital.

Your Committee for 1987 will also consider the production of an ENHG Wildlife calendar for 1988, utilizing photographs from the competition.

As a result of the ADMA/ENHG exhibition it is now felt that it would be feasible to maintain a small permanent exhibition that would be on show in the Old Fort and available for other suitable events.

Because of various uncertain factors throughout the year various weaknesses, such as lack of field trips, collection of specimens etc., should be rectified in 1987, now that the Group is on a firmer footing.

Finally, but of great significance, this will be the last meeting in St. Andrews Hall. For several weeks we have been negotiating with the Cultural Foundation regarding a possible move there. The Committee considered and unanimously agreed the proposition. Consequently, our first meeting there should be on January 5th. It is with great regret that we leave St. Andrews after such a long and happy association but the interests of the Group must prevail over sentiment.

My thanks go to past and present members of the Committee for their support and hard work over the last 12 months. In particular, several thanks must go to Tony and Heather Elston, and Peter Hellyer for their dedication in ensuring that the photographic competition should be the success that it was. Also to Jacques Romieu and Ursula Goddard for hard work in compiling the ADMA exhibition. Last, but not least, our founder member Bish Brown, who used part of his holiday here in Abu Dhabi for our benefit.

I shall be leaving Abu Dhabi at the end of February but have agreed to maintain continuity in the handover period, to remain as Chairman subject to the endorsement of the Committee, until the end of January.

I hope that the momentum generated over the past 12 months will continue and that the Group will play an increasing role in promoting the awareness of the natural history of the UAE.

Mike Crumbie
December 15th, 1986


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