One of the UAE’s most important archaeological sites will be protected from an expected increase in tourist visitor numbers, with new technology that uses ‘spray-on roads’ to defend the sensitive area.
Roads and walkways at the Mleiha archaeological site will be upgraded with the technology, ensuring the site is protected from the impact of modern tourism.
The Mleiha archaeological site, about 55km east of Dubai, is one of the most important historic excavation sites in the region, providing evidence of Greek, Persian, and Indian trade routes and artefacts, dating back thousands of years.
Australian company Global Road Technology (GRT) is using cutting-edge technology to protect the ancient site from the modern impact of tourists, with hundreds of thousands of visitors expected to tour the site, and a new visitor centre, each year.
The site’s custodians, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), faced the challenge of catering for a soaring number of visitors eroding walking paths, roads and the historically-sensitive surrounds.
GRT managing director Troy Adams said because of the company’s technology, they had been selected by Shurooq to strengthen and protect the area.
“It is a credit to our world-class researchers; we can deliver roads and walkways in a different way to traditional methods, using less imported materials, water and manpower,” Mr Adams said.
“Traditional methods use petroleum-based products such as bitumen, and trucking in large amounts of gravel or other roadbase, which could harm this important cultural site.
“GRT has experience working with environmentally sensitive sites, to ensure the custodians can balance the desire of the public to see and explore these areas, while minimising any harm to priceless artefacts and the surrounding landscape.
“While our roads have less impact on the environment, they are just as capable of handling the loads and wear of hundreds of thousands of people on foot, arriving by car or by tour coach.”
GRT will work with local contractors to deploy its polymer solution to gravel roads, and sand and earth walking trails, to ensure visitors can safely drive to, and walk around, the site in all weather conditions without impacting their surroundings.
The result will be harder-wearing road surfaces and walkways that retain their natural look and colour but are more resistant to wear from weather and traffic, have less environmental impact and have reduced maintenance requirements for the site’s owners.
GRT completed on-site works in 2015, and minimal ongoing maintenance is required.
“We are proud to have been chosen to work with the local development authority, and to help showcase this important site to visitors from around the world,” Mr Adams said.