Delma Island Heritage Lab

The Delma Island HeritageLab establishes an online, experimental platform through which data can be viewed and considered in a spatial and connected context.

ID CARD: Heritage and Society; Practices of Conservation, Preservation and Management; Connected Landscapes and Seascapes


In the first phase of the Delma Island HeritageLab researchers mapped tangible and intangible heritage narratives, spaces and places on the Island. In phase two, heritage layers were analyzed through the lenses of multiple themes and perspectives to identify the ways in which heritage is used to promote or mask social narratives, ideologies, identities, and economies. At the same time, data disclose regional and/or global connections that allow researchers to not only expand their data sets but examine data in different contexts.

Dhakira’s Delma Island HeritageLab was initiated in 2015 and includes an expanding archive of oral history surveys, surveys of historic pearl beds, and a photogrammetry drone survey of the old town and harbor precincts. Alia Yunis leads a team of researchers and students in mapping sites and narratives to an online platform. Outputs from research at Delma Island serve as a pilot case study for other Digital HeritageLabs.

The Digital HeritageLabs serves as an archive in which data from across research programs can be stored.

Delma Island plays a key role in the national identity and heritage of the UAE. It has a rich heritage associated with seafaring, long-distance trade, and cultural development that stretches back more than 7000 years. Delma Island is an especially well-preserved authentic cultural landscape in the UAE. The island was central for fishing and pearling and, as a place where ships and boats could collect freshwater, maintained broader connections with the region and beyond. More recently, Delma has played an important role in the development of the UAE’s oil industry. The combination of sites and oral histories and traditions make Delma Island a unique cultural landscape and fieldwork destination. The development of an interactive map onto which oral histories, archaeological sites and significant heritage places have been plotted, forms the template from which Dhakira applies its online research hub and Digital HeritageLab ambitions.



Delma Map: available with a password

Workshop Memory in Place: Intangible Heritage in Physical Spaces, February 7th, 2022, with Salama Al Qubaisi, Manaal Saadiyat, Alia Yunis. In partnership with NYUAD Institute and Qsar al-Hosn


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