The map above shows the principal deserts of the World. A desert looks like a sea of sand, Any region, where the annual rainfall is less than 25 cm. and it is not possible for plants and trees to grow, is a desert. Deserts can be both hot and cold, We will study about the life of people in a hot desert, where it is always hot and dry. Most of the hot deserts are near the tropics. Can you name the major deserts of the world ?
The early people of Europe called all of Asia the East, Later, China and Japan came to be known as the Far East. The countries of Asia close to Europe were called the Near East or the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, which occupies three-fourths of the Arabian Peninsula, is an important country in the Middle East. The whole country is a big, rocky plateau occupied by a desert.
Saudi Arabia, which lies to the west of India, is a typical desert region. The Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by seas on three sides. Find their names from the map. Saudi Arabia is surrounded by Jordan, Israel, Iraq and Kuwait in the north; Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman in the east; Yemen in the south and the An oasis Red Sea in the west. It is a land of high mountains with narrow coastal plains. Most of the country is covered with a thick layer of loose Due to the absence of lakes and rivers, there is an acute shortage of water. However, some water is available only at an oasis. It is an area in the hot where water is present at a suitable level and permits the growth of plants and trees.
The climate is extremely hot and dry. Like India, Saudi Arabia also gets the direct rays of the sun almost throughout the year. But it hardly gets any rain. This leads to the formation of sandy desert with very little vegetation.
The days are extremely hot, while the nights are cool. The coastal areas are comparatively pleasant due to the presence of sea.
During the daytime, hot winds blow from the interior of the country. These winds generally carry large amount of loose sand, and are called sandstorms
This forces the hills of sand, called sand dunes, to shift from one place to another, Sand dunes are simply hills of sand that are created by the wind. The shapes of sand dunes differ greatly depending on the wind’s strength and direction.
Due to the shortage of water only plants which have adapted themselves to harsh surroundings survive. The date palm trees are the only trees which grow easily in this region. The leaves and wood of the tree are also used to make mats, baskets and other useful things. Grasses and thorny bushes which have long roots are also found here. Near the oasis, where there is enough underground water, some villages and cities have developed. The people can grow food crops such as wheat, barley, fruits and vegetables.
Indiscriminate hunting has greatly reduced the already scant wildlife of the desert. Efforts are being made to save ‘oryx’ from extinction. Insects and rodents live on plants and seeds that give them water as well as food.
Most people live either in villages or around oasis. Some of them are farmers, and others keep flocks of goats, sheep and camels, They are nomads and move from one place to another in search of new pastures. They are called Bedouins. They live in tents made of animals skins and cloth. They move in caravans through the desert and carry their luggage on camel’s back. The animals provide them all their basic needs such as food and shelter and help them to earn their livelihood.
The camel is called the ship of the desert. It drinks huge quantities of water and then conserves it by regulating its body heat. It can lose 30 per cent of its fluids without becoming dehydrated. People die if they lose more than 13 per cent. Its hump is mostly fat used for energy when food is scarce. The camel has broad pads on the bottom of its feet. These keep it from sinking into the soft desert sands.
The camel, called the ship of the desert, is most useful in the desert. It can travel without food and water for many days. It is one of the most important means of transport, especially in the rural areas.
Now the life is not the same in most of Saudi Arabia. In 1933, petroleum was found along the Persian Gulf coast of Arabia. Today, Saudi Arabia is one of the largest producers of crude petroleum in the world. The money earned from the export of petroleum has been wisely used by the King of Saudi Arabia for the modernization and development of the country. Today, Saudi Arabia is one of the richest countries of the world.
Large modern cities with schools, hospitals, hotels, roads, airfields, etc,, have been developed. A new port has been built at Jiddah on the Red Sea. Muslims from all parts of the world come here by sea and air. From here they go to Mecca, which is the most important centre of pilgrimage for the Muslims, the followers of Islam. Medina, to the north of Mecca, is another religious centre. The pilgrimage to these places is called haj. Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, is a modern town with huge skyscrapers, parks and gardens; markets, business centers, hospitals and educational institutions.
Modern roads and railways connect these cities. This is all due to the money earned from petroleum, which is rightly called ‘liquid gold, The King of Saudi Arabia is interested in the development of all types of industries in the country. At present there are many petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, fertilizers, cement and iron and steel factories. Most of industries are established on the east coast. Some small-scale industries like food processing, textiles, leather goods, handicrafts and cosmetics have also developed.
Science and technology is widely being used to improve the conditions in the country. Salt water of the sea is being treated in big plants to make it fit for domestic use. New methods are used to bring more land under farming and also to increase the production of food crops. With all the efforts made by the government, the life of the people in Saudi Arabia is now much more comfortable than ever before.
People from many other countries of the world come to work in Saudi Arabia. A large number of Indians are also working for the growth and development of this country. We have good relations with the people of Saudi Arabia, and a variety of Indian goods like fish, meat, vegetables, textiles, garments and handicrafts are available here, India buys crude petroleum from Saudi Arabia.Despite the harsh environment, Saudi Arabia has grown into a modern nation in recent years. This has been possible due to the hard work and regular effort of the people and the government of Saudi Arabia, which has turned a dry, barren desert into a prosperous land.
Desalination is the process of removing salt from water, so that the water can be used for drinking or irrigation. Most of the world’s water is in the oceans. However/ about 3.5 per cent of sea water consists of salts/ mainly sodium chloride. To be fit to drink/ water must contain no more than about 0.05 per cent salts. Water also accumulates underground. In many desert regions/ the ground water is salty. However/ its salt content is usually lower than that of sea water.
Various methods are used to convert sea water and salty ground water into drinking water. The simplest method is distillation. The salt water is boiled/ and the steam/ which is salt-free/ is collected and condensed. Some distillation plants can purify more than 4.5 million litres a day. It would be cheaper to use solar energy (heat from the Sun) for evaporation. However/ the rate of evaporation is usually too slow for practical large-scale purposes.
The world’s largest desalination plants are in the Arabian Peninsula. The Middle East produces about 75 per cent of the world’s desalinated water/ with the USA accounting for 10 per cent/ and Europe and Africa 5 per cent each.