There is a growing realisation that pre-disaster planning is an effective approach to building the resilience of nations to adverse events. There is mounting evidence that little has been done in terms of pre-disaster planning, not only in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but also throughout much of the Islamic world. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, there are staggering economic developments, largely based on oil and gas revenues post World War 2, which substantially change the livelihoods, and therefore the vulnerability, of local populations. In the case of UAE, this was a move from a nomadic Bedouin pastoral culture to one of living in modern urban areas. Secondly, cities in the UAE have developed to a point where they are now global cities. City growth and development is being driven by the massive growth in immigration of foreign nationals and international businesses. In the UAE, there are seven foreign nationals for every UAE citizen. These developments have substantially changed the risk profile of the UAE. Many of the risk management strategies practiced when the UAE was mainly a nomadic society are no longer appropriate. Similarly, immigrants will bring with them different kinds risk management strategies, depending on their place of origin. Though the UAE is multi-cultural, Islam is an important part of the culture of the Emirates. The research investigates the role of Islam in disaster risk reduction. The research used a mixed methods approach for date collection. Secondary research developed the overview of the UAE vulnerability. Primary research had two parts. The first was data collection from groups of male and female community members and stakeholders in each Emirate to provide a comparative analysis of risk perception and response. The second comprised key stakeholder interviews and a focus group who had broad for disaster risk reduction. This research presents the first hazard history of UAE. A vulnerability viewpoint is used to evaluate the hazard history and findings are presented in the paradigm of natural hazards research. An evaluation of UAE’s institutionalisation of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies in the context of its international obligations, e.g. the Hyogo Framework, is undertaken. Central to the argument about the difficulties of implementing DRR is the role of Islamic culture. The research offers the results of fieldwork that explore experience of disaster and emergency at personal, community and institutional level. It offers observations, from personal experience, of the difficulty of delivering interventions in traditional Arab architecture/land use patterns for emergency services as well as the challenges of the new, high rise, concrete cities. Most importantly, it looks to the governance issue of the Muslim faith, including the Quran itself, to see if there is any obligation or requirement to take community DRR seriously. It is this emphasis on understanding Muslim faith, the backbone of local lives, which underlie new directions for DRR in UAE. The research finds that there is too great a focus on institution building as opposed to improving community preparedness. It also finds there is strong support for a greater role of the Mosques in building community resilience. The research ends with an outline of the different vulnerabilities in each UAE Emirate but also with an emphasis on the importance of Muslim faith as the backbone of the total national community and the stepping-stone to a community based DRR.
|Publication status||In preparation - May 2017|