Symposium on Gulf Cartography from Past to Present

March 27, 2013

Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre of Gulf Studies


SEDET Research Centre

University Paris Diderot – Sorbonne Paris City

For pictures please visit Heritage Charts Facebook

This first symposium aims to launch and promote a debate among scholars interested in the history of mapping and mapping practices in the Gulf region. The main goal of this gathering of academics from various institutions in the UAE is twofold: first, to analyse maps produced over the centuries, focusing on the Arab Gulf region; and second, to study the evolution of mapping concerns and methods in the GCC.

These considerations for maps and associated representations are of exceptional importance. Indeed, the history of the region presents a particular problematic due to the scarcity of written sources in such a cultural context known for its great oral tradition and intangible heritage. It is for this reason that the history of the region is often studied through accounts of travellers or seafarers. Therefore, such historical documents can be regarded as geographical literature. In addition to these narratives, maps form another major source of knowledge of the past. Their ingenuity lies in offering a vision of the deserts and oases and/or an accurate description of the marine environment along the coastal areas and harbours.

The building of a rich collection of historical maps is not only a priceless contribution to the knowledge of the past, but also a means to a better understanding of the present conditions, not to mention a potential tool for projecting the future. Since ancient times, the Gulf appears as a space where people, goods, techniques and ideas circulate. One might even consider the Gulf as a “Méditerranée” in the Braudelian sense of the word. Today, at the time of globalization, the Gulf remains both a complex interface between its two shores and a bridge between Europe and Asia.

In this regard, the publication of atlases can also prove to be an important contribution to the knowledge of the region, while thematic mapping allows the merger between the legacy of the past as recorded in old maps and the present dynamics using numeric and cartographic data processing. Various recent atlases, whether comprehensive or specialised, published by scholars or governmental agencies, are, in fact, a way towards a multi-scale understanding of the area.

Cartographic opus helps to prepare future contributions for the impending post-oil economy and the building of a knowledge society in the Gulf Countries. In this context, GIS and remote sensing become crucial decision support tools. Today’s maps rely on information and communication technology, however they still pay tribute to the long history of the cartographic representation of the Arab Gulf. Thus, they continue the tradition of ancient maps, which had paved the way.


Introductory session

10h- Mr. Ali Al Murri, General Director of the Daara

10h15- Prof. Laurent Faret, Director of SEDET, School of Social Sciences, University Paris-Diderot, Paris

10h30- Visit on the Cartography collection of Sheikh Sultan Al Qasimi

11h Tea Break

Morning session

11h30- Dr. Marc Beech, Cultural Landscape Manager, Historical Environment Department, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority, Abu Dhabi “From Ptolemy to Geospatila Portals: Mapping the Cultural Heritage of the United Arab Emirates”

11h45- Dr Naeema Alhosani, Department Geography, University of the UAE, Al Ain ” Symbolization in old maps”

12h- Prof. Fayez Mohammed Elessawy, Department Geography, University of the UAE, Al Ain “Gulf in ancient maps”

12h15- Dr. Noor Al Deen Al Sagheer, Department of History and Islamic Civilization, University of Sharjah, “French Cartographic representing Indian Ocean & Arabian gulf in 17,18,19 and 20th centuries”

12h30- Dr. Yahia Mahmoud, Associate Professor, History Department, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain “British survey of Abu Dhabi coast”.

12h-45- Debate

13h-15- Lunch

Afternoon session

14h30- Prof. Saif Al Qaydi, Department of Geography, University of the UAE, Al Ain “The role of the Arabic Division in the UNGEGN in the GCC geographical names; naming the Gulf water outlets”.

14h45- Prof. Philippe Cadène, Department of Geography and Planning, University Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi. “”Regional integration of the Gulf countries through mapping: an ongoing process”

15h- Dr. Mohammed Bualhamam, Department of Geography, University of the UAE, Al Ain  “The need for regional spatial data infrastructure in the GCC: prospects and challenges”

15h15- Mr. Issam Attalah, GISTECH, Sharjah “Leveraging GIS and IT Synergy”

15h30 Dr. Adnan Husnein & Dr. Seif Khiati, Department of Architecture and Planning, ALHOSN University Participatory Mapping: A Creative Approach to Building Community Narratives

15h45- Dr. Seif Khiati & Dr. Adnan Husnein, Department of Architecture and Planning, ALHOSN University, Mapping Neighborhoods: Quality of Life Perspective

16h- Debate

16h30- Tea Break


17h Final discussion and Debate on the future topics for the next symposium

1- Cartography of the Arab Gulf Region along centuries

2- Maps and Travellers in the Arab Gulf Region

3- Sea Charts of the Arab Gulf through the History

4- Atlases of the Arab Gulf / Arab Gulf in Atlases

5- Cartographic approach of Gulf cities

6- GIS and Remote sensing: a new vision of the Arab Gulf Countries?

17h45 Closure

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: