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Technical paper: Geotechnical practice and ground conditions in coastal regions of the United Arab Emirates

By R J Epps, Foundation Engineering

This paper was first published in GE’s July 1980 issue


The areas considered by this paper are situated on the east and west coasts of the northern part of the Arabian Peninsula, and occupy belts of land extending from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaima, and from Fujeirah to Dibba (Fig. 1). The western area, formerly known as the Trucial Coast, forms part of a wide low-lying coastal plain narrowing to the north, and consists largely of accumulations of coastal and dune deposits, with evaporitic sabkha deposits. The area is very similar in aspect to other low-lying areas in the southern and western Arabian Gulf. The eastern coastal belt forms part of a much narrower coastal plain, and consists of a mixture of coastal beach and sabkha deposits and alluvial outwash sediments from the nearby range of the Mountains of Oman.

As a result of extensive construction in recent years considerable information on ground conditions in these areas is now available from site investigation data. The object of this discussion is to provide an appreciation of the existing ground conditions and associated engineering problems, and offer a very generalised approach to those problems, which may also be pertinent to conditions in other flat coastal plain areas of the Arabian Gulf. 

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