Abu Dhabi Geography

Geographic Coordinates
Latitude 22 50 N– 26 00 N, Longitude 51 00 E – 56 25 E

Map References
Middle East

Comparative Size
Roughly the size of Portugal

Land Borders
9 km border with Qatar on the northwest
530 km border with Saudi Arabia on the west, south and southeast
450 km border with Oman on the southeast and northeast

Coastline
700 km (600 km along the Arabian Gulf, 100 km bordering the Gulf of Oman)

Maritime Claims
Territorial sea 12 nm; Contiguous zone 24 nm; Exclusive economic zone 200nm;
Continental shelf 200 nm

Climate
The climate of the UAE generally is hot and dry. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 48° C on the coastal plain. In the Al Hajar al Gharbi Mountains, temperatures are considerably cooler, a result of increased altitude. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10° C and 14° C. During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as the sharq makes the coastal region especially unpleasant. The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is fewer than 120 millimeters, but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 millimeters. Rain in the coastal region falls in short, torrential bursts during the summer months, sometimes resulting in floods in ordinarily dry wadi beds. The region is prone to occasional, violent dust storms, which can severely reduce visibility.

Terrain
Flat, barren coastal plain merging into rolling sand dunes of a vast desert wasteland. Mountainous in the east. The soil of the UAE is almost entirely sandy, limiting the varieties of plants that can grow. Palm, acacia, and tamarisk trees grow naturally in the oases and along the coast, and hardy shrubs and grasses survive in the desert. Irrigation around the major oases and cities supports the growth of eucalyptus trees, decorative plants such as bougainvillea, and fruits and vegetables.

Elevation Extremes
Lowest point,Persian Gulf 0 m
Highest point, Jabal Yibir 1 527 m

Natural Resources
The UAE’s proven oil reserves make up almost one-tenth of the world’s total, with about 85 percent of the oil located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Dubai and Ash Shariqah also have significant reserves. Estimated natural gas reserves amount to about 3 percent of the world’s total, with Abu Dhabi again possessing the largest share. Other mineral resources include modest deposits of chrome, iron, copper, and uranium.

Land Use
Arable land 0.6 %; Permanent crops 2.25%; Others 97.15% (1991)

Water Sources
There are no rivers or lakes in the UAE, but underground water deposits are found at several desert oases, including Al Ayn and Liwa. Wells tap these natural aquifers (underground layers of earth or stone that hold water) to irrigate crops and provide drinking water. Some processed wastewater is also used for irrigation. Along the flat Persian Gulf coast there are few wells—past pumping from the water table has greatly lowered it, rendering the water salty—and there are almost no cultivated areas west of the palm groves of Abu Dhabi. Ocean desalination plants, which convert saltwater to fresh water, are a main source of water for drinking, agricultural, and industrial needs in these areas.

Irrigated Land
720 sq km (1998)

Natural Hazards
Frequent sand and dust storms

Environment – Current Issues
The government of the UAE has sponsored a massive forestation scheme designed to reduce soil erosion, protect crops from wind damage, and beautify cities. Although some endangered species have been protected, the country is a major exporter of reptile skins and a hub for the trade in illegal wildlife.
The UAE is a contributor to the increasing levels of air pollution in the Persian Gulf region. The country derives 100 percent of its electricity from thermal plants that burn fossil fuels, thereby releasing pollutants into the atmosphere. The UAE also has one of the world’s highest per capita rates of carbon dioxide emissions from industrial processes, as well as of petroleum consumption per capita. Pollution from petroleum processing facilities and oil spills also affect the coast. The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to global warming, desertification , endangered species , hazardous wastes, water pollution , and ozone layer protection.

Environment – International Agreements
Party to Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography – Note
Strategic location along southern approaches to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital transit point for world crude oil .

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