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UAE

The tribe has been the pricipal building block of UAE society since successive waves of migration, beginning in the middle of the first millennium BC, brought Arab tribes to the region. The varied terrain which these tribes inhabited, i.e. desert, oasis, mountains and coast, dictated the traditional lifestyles that evolved over the centuries but the common thread was the resourcefulness which the people displayed in exploiting to the limit their harsh environment. This was assisted by the age-old social structure in which each family was traditionally bound by obligations of mutual assistance to his immediate relatives and to the tribe as a whole. Among the tribe an individual's selfless hospitality was the source of his honour and pride. A common religion, Islam, also provided the cement that held the people together.
The largest tribe, the Bani Yas, roamed the vast sandy areas that cover almost all of the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Other tribes, too, such as the Awamir and Manasir, shared this challenging environment for numerous generations. All the subtribes and clans were accustomed to wander great distances with their camels in search of grazing, moving as entire family units. Almost all Bani Yas families, with the exception of the fishing groups like the Al Rumaitha returned to a home in one of the oasis settlements at certain times of year. Much prized date gardens were cultivated in the hollows of huge dunes at Liwa, tapping the water trapped beneath the absorbent sands. In Al Ain and other oases the luxuriant date gardens were watered by an efficient traditional irrigation system (falaj Ar.pl. aflaj) bringing water from aquifers in the mountains. In the narrow mountain wadis (valleys), falaj-like watercourses (ghayl) were used to irrigate terraced gardens tended by extended families.
ghaus) during four months in the summer. Eventually, the pearling boom brought increased urbanization with a great mix of tribal people settling in coastal towns and villages. This process was hugely accelerated by the discovery and export of oil. So much so that life in the UAE today bears little resemblance to that of 30 or 40 years ago. Nevertheless, there is a deep awareness at all levels that the preservation of such a hard-won heritage provides a necessary bridge to the past and a solid basis to meet the challenges of the future..