Identifying threats to historical sites is important for formulating preventive measures to reduce their impacts. The oases in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE), are one of the historical sites and were inscribed as cultural sites in 2011 by UNESCO World Heritage Committee. This study assessed the threats to oases based on the UNESCO-listed factors affecting the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage properties. An Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) coupled with remote sensing was used for data collection and analysis. Expert feedback showed that water, urban expansion, soil salinity, palm disease, and the legal framework were major threats. To determine whether urban expansion influences oases preservation, remote sensing images were used to investigate land use and land cover (LULC) around the oases. The LULC change between 1972 and 2022 showed that palm trees, grass, and built-up areas increased by 59%, 76%, and 91%, respectively. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and normalized difference water index (NDWI) were used to assess stress in the oases. The results indicated that oases have not been impacted by urban expansion since 1972, reflecting the UAE’s commitment to the preservation of oases. The availability of cloud-based and open-access satellite images coupled with AHP is an effective tool for understanding threats. This research aligns with UN SDG 15—“Life on Land”. The concept of this study could be used to assess threats to historical sites. It is recommended that policies for the oases’ preservation be maintained and updated to cater to issues related to population and climate change. Gray water and smart irrigation systems could be assessed as alternatives to minimize water use. Hyperspectral remote sensing is recommended for future studies related to soil salinity and palm diseases.
- remote sensing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Global and Planetary Change
- Nature and Landscape Conservation