Abu Dhabi Island: Analysis of Development and Vegetation Change Using Remote Sensing (1972–2000)

  • Abdulhakim M. AbdiEmail author
  • Anand Nandipati


Over the past few decades new cities have appeared around the world in undeveloped areas. And although development has expanded significantly and become bolder and more innovative, the above-average scale at which the countries of the Persian Gulf are growing stands one level above the rest. The United Arab Emirates obtained independence in 1971 with a GDP of 6.5 billion Dirhams (US$ 1.6 billion); this figure ballooned to 379 billion Dirhams (US$ 103 billion) in 2004. During this timeframe, the country had undergone tremendous development through petroleum exports and foreign investments. Needless to say, development has permanently changed the country’s landscape. The purpose of this paper is to investigate land cover changes in the capital Abu Dhabi and surrounding regions from 1972 to 2000 using Landsat images. Two primary (land and vegetation) and two secondary (shallow and deep water) features were selected as measures of development. Remote sensing and GIS were used to perform the classification and post-classification of images and visualize the results. Results for the two primary features vegetation and land have shown an increase of 3700 and 17% respectively between 1972 and 2000. The creation of new land from the by-products of dredging activities has negative effects on seafloor habitat while the intensified artificial expansion of vegetation impacts groundwater resources, both being direct consequences of rapid development. The application of sustainable methods in development activities is crucial, particularly in this part of the world with very few natural resources other than petroleum and natural gas.


United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Land cover change Satellite image classification Rapid development Land reclamation Remote sensing Landsat 



This work has been supported by the European Commission, Erasmus Mundus Programme, International M.Sc. in Geospatial Technologies, project no. 2007-0064. We would like to thank Dr. Mario Caetano of Instituto Superior de Estatística e Gestão de Informação, Universiade Nova de Lisboa and Instituto Geográfico Português for his invaluable support and advice in carrying out this study.


  1. Alhameli S, Alshehhi M (2004) Images are an outstanding evidence of rapid development “A perfect example from United Arab Emirates (UAE)”. ISPRS XXth Congress, Istanbul, Turkey, p 505Google Scholar
  2. Cohen J (1960) A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales. Educ Psychol Meas 20(1):37–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. El Mallakh R (1981) The economic development of the United Arab Emirates. Croom Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Issa S (2008) GIS approach for assessment of human footprint and land management: an example in the United Arab Emirates. The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences 591–595Google Scholar
  5. Jones PD, Groisman PY, Coughlan M, Plummer N, Wang WC, Karl TR (1990) Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land. Nature 347:169–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Library of Congress, Federal Research Division (1993) Retrieved on 12 December 2008. United Arab Emirates: a country study,
  7. Lu D, Weng Q (2007) A survey of image classification methods and techniques for improving classification performance. Int J Remote Sens 28(5):823–870CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. MEAW, Department of Agriculture (2008) Retrieved on 12 December 2008, from Ministry of Environment and Water,
  9. Navalgund R, Jayaraman V, Roy P (2007) Remote sensing applications: an overview. Curr Sci 93:1747–1766Google Scholar
  10. Oxford Business Group (2008) The report: Abu Dhabi 2008. Oxford Business Group, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Rouse JW, Haas RH, Schell JA, Deering DW (1973) Monitoring vegetation systems in the Great Plains with Earth Resources Technology Satellite. In: Proceedings of 3rd Earth Resources Technology Satellite Symposium, Washington, DC, pp 309–317Google Scholar
  12. Saura S, (2002) Effects of minimum mapping unit on land cover data spatial configuration and composition. Int J Remote Sens (23)22:4853–4880CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Starbuck MJ, Juanito T (2006) Monitoring vegetation change in Abu Dhabi Emirate from 1996 to 2000 and 2004 using Landsat satellite imagery. In: Proceedings of 2nd International Kuwait Conference, Kuwait City, pp 817–831Google Scholar
  14. Stuckens J, Coppin PR, Bauer ME (2000) Integrating contextualinformation with per-pixel classification for improved land coverclassification. Remote Sens Environ 71:282–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. UAE Ministry of Information and Culture (2004). UAE yearbook 2004. Trident Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. UAE-NMC, Gross Domestic Product (2008). Retrieved on 12 December 2008, from United Arab Emirates National Media Council,

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto Superior de Estatística e Gestão de InformaçãoUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisboaPortugal

Personalised recommendations