The discovery of oil in the UAE

Abstract

In a world that is increasingly relying on information to make decisions, it is essential for people who record events to ensure that they do so diligently to ensure no case of misinformation occurs. While collecting such facts, it is vital to ensure that one evaluates several sources so as to ensure any biases are identified. This paper examines five articles devoted to oil discovery in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The research defines three primary sources by Mana Saeed Al-Otaiba, Gerald Butt, and Peter Hellyer, as well as two secondary sources by John Anthony and Raggaei El Mallakh. The analyzed references correspond to each other in terms of presented facts, providing only minor differences; sources also base on different approaches and aims of the authors, which are either presenting the facts regarding the issue exclusively or explaining them from economic and/or political points of view. Using a variety of primary sources ensures that one is able to get the full picture of how the oil discovery in the UAE occurred without having to risk misstating facts.

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Introduction

History is the field that allows people to have a view of the past and understand some of the policies and structures that existed before, the relationships between different societies, governments, and individuals. Colonialism remains one of the most documented historical events as it was a tool used to unite people of different societies and allow the exchange of cultures and beliefs. In this context, European nations had a strong impact on today's world as they were heavily involved in colonialism with Britain having the largest number of colonies. One of the nations that fell under the control of the British was the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the 20th century, Britain and most of the western world discovered the importance of oil and their dependence on it allowed these nations to increase their exploration activities throughout the Gulf region as it showed great potential for having oil deposits. The paper evaluates the historical documentation of the discovery of oil in the UAE and how it was portrayed by different authors. Despite the fact that the analyzed authors wrote about the event at different time periods, there is consistency in their manner of recording the chronology and analyzing the facts, although some minor inconsistencies can still be tracked.

The Discovery of Oil in the UAE

Before evaluating how the events were recorded, it is essential to understand the process that led to the discovery of oil in the UAE. The discovery and utilization of oil was a major game changer in the 19th and 20th century. Oil in the Gulf region was first discovered and commercialized in Iran by British companies. However, the established oil concession order made Britain and its allies realized their vulnerability emerged due to dependence on another nation to cover own energy needs. Therefore, Britain started exploring for oil in the UAE and in the Gulf region generally, which was a favorable option for the British authorities for they had political control over the local leaders. Oil was first explored in the nation in 1935 after turning a water survey activity into an oil exploration activity. The motivation to find oil by the Sheikh emerged due to the payments that other rulers were obtained from the oil companies working in the region. The survey of the region began in Bahraini oasis as this is the place that showed the highest potential for oil in the area. However, the activities were halted after the Second World War began in 1939. In 1946, after the war was over, the oil searching activities continued up to 1950 when they stopped again because the vehicles could not move due to the sand dunes. The search resumed soon after pieces of the equipment that could navigate the dunes were developed.

The country first began to drill for oil in the UAE in 1950 at Jebel Ali and Ras Sadr, but by 1951 the wells had been proven unyielding and hence were abandoned. The operation was supposed to move to western Abu Dhabi, but that was not possible as there was an ongoing border conflict with Saudi Arabia which was famously known as the Buraimi Dispute. The country first struck oil in 1957 and in 1958 the drilling began. This success was closely followed by another onshore discovery of the well which was 450 km2 in size. It received the name Murban No. 3 (now Murban-Bab) and it contained oil in several porous limestone areas. In 1964 this well went on stream, and by 1979 the daily oil production was an average of 60270 barrels of oil per day. This was closely followed by the discovery of viable oil fields when the Bu Hasa well and offshore Zakum bore were found one after another in 1962 and 1965 respectively. The successful exploration of the discovered wells began to change the fortune of the small desert nation.

Analysis of the Articles

Five articles that were used to write the above extract are all similar in terms of the information relayed through them. The paper bases on three primary sources, namely Petroleum and the Economy of the United Arab Emirates by Mana Saeed Al-Otaiba, Oil And Gas In The UAE by Gerald Butt, and Memorial Unveiled To UAE's First Oil Well by Peter Hellyer. Additionally, the information from these articles was complemented with the two secondary sources, namely The impact of oil on political and socioeconomic change in the United Arab Emirates by John Anthony and The economic development of the United Arab Emirates by Raggaei El Mallakh. They all detail the events that occurred around the time oil was discovered in the UAE, although were written in different time periods and with a different aim. However, the contents of the article are accurate in regards to the areas they discuss.

The extract above is a representation of all the issues discussed in the articles. However, the information in the above section is not present in all the articles. The article by Hellyer is almost entirely dedicated to the Murban No. 3 oil well and its significance to the discovery and commercialization of oil in the country. The other facts in the articles have been gathered from the other four sources, and this helped in creating an accurate extract of the discovery of oil in the UAE. However, it is important to note that the facts presented in this article are greatly supported by what is contained in the other four more elaborate sources. Thus, such a situation highlights one of the benefits of having multiple historical sources: multiples sources help to fill in the gaps, since often one author is not able to incorporate all the information about an event in one resource. For instance, in the article Memorial Unveiled To UAE's First Oil Well, the author does not explain why the well is labeled number three. The other sources help establish that there were two other unsuccessful wells before Murban No.3 and hence the numbering emerged. This example serves as evidence that the information contained in the article is accurate, although not exhaustive.

There are several mistakes that can be noted in the articles; the primary issue is the omission of certain significant events which may appear unimportant at first, but are of great value for the understanding of the subject. For instance, the article Oil And Gas In The UAE uses the name Murban-Bab to describe the first successful oil well in the country. The author fails to include the fact that the name was changed from Murban No.3 and this may confuse a person reviewing the source without having some other reference to compare the data. The mistake though genuine can lead to misinformation. The other inaccuracies in the article refer mostly to dates whereby the authors state the year correctly but fail to accurately state the precise date on which a certain event occurred. This can also lead to misinformation but having several sources to compare can mitigate it. Other than the two aforementioned issues, there were no mistakes with regards to how the articles represented the facts.

The other difference, evident while evaluating the sources, is that the articles were intended for various purposes. While some of them were written as a representation of facts as they happened, others push a certain perspective. The article Oil And Gas In The UAE is written with the sole aim of representing the chronological manner in which oil and gas were discovered in the Emirates. There are no explanations for other factors around the discovery of this resource. The same case applies to Memorial Unveiled To UAE's First Oil Well. However, the other three articles use historical occurrences in a bid to explain different phenomena like the transformation of the country or its economic growth. These goals make these articles slightly different from the first two since they frame the discovery of oil in the UAE with political and economic context. However, it is important to note that Al-Otaiba, Anthony, and El Mallakh did not distort or misinterpret information to compose a completely new narrative; they represented the fact as they were, adding certain extra explanations.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it is possible to ascertain the accuracy of recorded historical events of the oil discovery in the UAE despite certain differences in the author's style of issue representation. Evaluation of different sources and their comparison helped to establish how the facts have been represented and the manner in which author's approaches differ. The analysis above shows some of the issues that one may encounter when conducting research on a subject and the importance of counterchecking each fact to verify its accuracy. It is, therefore, important for all the people engaged in historical research to ensure that they review different sources so as to be able to identify any misinformation that may have been recorded in order to avoid restating wrong facts. Such an approach, in turn, will ensure that the past events are recorded accurately and, thus, provide proper information to users of such record in the future.

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