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The Past

20,000 - 2,000 years ago

ADIAS is the acronym of the Abu Dhabi Islands Archaeological Survey, which was established in 1991 at the request of HH President Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and upon the invitation of HE Sheikh Nahyan b. Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education. Between then and 2006, it was responsible for investigating the archaeology, and later palaeontology, of the western coastal area and offshore islands of Abu Dhabi and also carried out work in the desert areas of Abu Dhabi's Western Region.

Operating under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Muhammad b. Zayed Al Nahyan, then Chief of Staff of the UAE Armed Forces, ADIAS undertook both field surveys and excavations, identifying several hundred previously unrecorded archaeological and fossil sites. Among them were several of major regional significance, including the UAE's oldest villages, on the islands of Marawah and Dalma, dating back to the Late Stone Age or Neolithic period, a pre-Islamic Christian monastery on the island of Sir Bani Yas, and the only sulphur mines in south-eastern Arabia, at Jebel Dhanna, which date to the Late Islamic period.

Corporate support for ADIAS came from a variety of sponsors, including ADNOC (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), ADCO (Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations), ADPPOC (Abu Dhabi Ports Operating Company), Emirates Airlines and a variety of multinational corporations (e.g. BP, ICL).

ADIAS ceased fieldwork in Abu Dhabi in 2006, its responsibilities being transferred to the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, ADACH, but continues a programme of publication of results from its work.

The ADIAS Executive Director was Peter Hellyer, who is now archaeology expert for the National Media Council.

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