The following day in the Emirates, we set off on a tour of the surrounding country. This part of the Emirates is scrub land rather than total desert. Here, farms have been set up and the soil improved by additives.
We filmed in a field where they were growing melons. We were now a long way from a source of food and our guide suggested that we each had a melon for lunch. These melons were water melons, not one of my favourites. Having eaten an Ogen melon, I could not be bothered with a mouthful of pips and a virtually tasteless juice. However, I finally tasted one because I was thirsty.
We went on to Ajman. From Ajman, we struck east again to visit a farming district. It seemed impossible that such places could exist in what was such a varied geographical landscape.
First there was a dairy farm that had over 150 head. They were mainly fed on imported foodstuffs, but, apart from that, the place had every appearance of a European dairy farm.
Down the road, we went to a citrus farm, or is it an orchard, where the lemons were being harvested. They were huge lemons and we were given a pile to take away with us.
On the way back to Al Ain, we called in to a hot-house farm. There was a large acreage of vegetables being grown in plastic tunnels. There were huge red tomatoes and dark green cucumbers. It is possible that this farm could supply the whole of the Emirates with their salad stuffs. All of these places survived by artificial irrigation systems.
What was interesting was the enthusiasm with which we were greeted by the owners of these places.
The man from the Ministry said that he had his own farm and asked us to go there and film his fields. This place was much closer to Al Ain. At his farm, we filmed a field of cabbages which were growing out of holes in a plastic sheeting that covered the whole ground. This was to retain what moisture there might be in the soil.
He was also attempting to grow tomatoes in an open field. The plants looked fairly good, but we could not see any blossom on the plants.
To the world outside the Emirates, the whole country would appear to be desert, but we had found large acreage under the plough, producing a bountiful harvest.
Our tour of the Al Ain region was finished and we headed back to Abu Dhabi.
Back in Abu Dhabi, we had another location to film where we could show the unusual plastic tunnels used for growing salad fruits and lettuces. The location was quite close to the docks and, obviously, close to the sea. The rows of tunnels each consisted of a semicircular frame on which two layers of plastic were fitted. The top supporting bar which ran from back to front was, in fact, a perforated tube. Sea water was piped into it and as it was sprayed out of the pipe,. The water ran down both sides of the tunnel between the layers of plastic. This was intended to cool the tunnels from what would be a scorching temperature.
There was no doubt that farming and horticulture in the Emirates was of a very high standard.
We went on to a chicken farm. This was slightly odd in that there were large air-conditioned sheds in which the chickens could go to get out of the noonday sun. During the morning and evening, the chickens would forage and also be fed in the ground outside. When it got hot, they would all go inside until it got cool again.
It was well run and the chickens were well looked after.
Back at the hotel, we unloaded our gift of lemons. We gave them to the bar staff. Everyone in the hotel had fresh lemon in their Gin and Tonics.
Next chapter: Chapter 88: “That’s not treacle pudding!”