I believe I can report another satisfactory year for the Group. Our memhership rose from 127 in 1980 to 156 in 1981. These figures include family memberships so the actual number of members is even higher. My only regret is that we have had practically no UAE nationals to our meetings though I believe in the long term that we shall find a growing interest in our work, particularly among the younger generation.
Your committee has tried to keep up the standards set in previous years and provide a programme of activities which responds to the interests of the specialist and general membership. The talks at the St. Andrews Community Centre are, I know, the activity of most interest to our members. It is not easy to come up with a varied and interesting selection of topics, nevertheless, thanks to our energetic Programrne Secretary, we were able to put on eleven talks on UAE or wider natural history subjects, seven travel talks and two on other subjects. This reflects the sort of balance between natural history and other subjects obtained in previous years and which we judge from attendance at the various talks is acceptable to the membership as a whole.
Throughout the year our room in the Federal Building was open every fourth Monday in the month to allow recorders and members to pursue topics of particular interest. Attendance on these evenings was not as good as we might have hoped though a small group put in a number of hours classifying Ithe shell collection. In the course of the year, members of the Group also organised a permanent display of insects, including a fine display of bees and wasps by Giles Roche, as well as fossils, flints and archeological finds. We are in the process of putting together a collection of plant specimens.
Rob Western and Bish Brown supplied material on the plant life of the UAE which was used in the ADCO Annual Report for 1980. In return, the company made a genorous presentation of equipment for use on field trips and other activities. My thanks go to Rob and Bish for their efforts and to ADCO for their contribution.
In the course of the year Bulletins No. I3, 14 and 15 were published. Under the careful editorship of Rob Western, the high standard of previous years has been maintained. Articles have beecn written by members in Abu Dhabj and contributions received from elsewhere. However, it is clear that the bulk of the articles come from a few regular writers and I know the Editor would like more members to try their hand at writing. Short articles, notes on trips, records of things seen, would all be particularly welcome.
In response to popular demand, field trips were organised to Sweihan in January, Fossil Valley (Jebel Huwaya) in February and Umm an Nar in December. There was a good turn out for all these trips and those who took part seem to have enjoyed them. My thanks go to all those who helped organise them.
I shall be reporting separately on the activities of the Recorders. As a general comment however, I feel I must say that I am not satisfied that we are doing as much as we might. We are fortunate in having a few Recorders who are enthusiastic, well informed and bring a high degree of professionalisrn to their work. In other areas however we have done very little systematic recording. I hope it will be possible in the coming year to find more members willing to help plug the gaps.
The Group' s library is now housed in our room in the Federal Building, where it can be consulted on room nights or by arrangement with a member of the committee. There is a dearth of good reference works on the natural history of the Arabian Peninsula. Nevertheless we have kept an eye open for new publications and this year for example have added Gallargher's substantial "Birds of Oman" to the collection.
Regular attenders of our Monday talks will know that it has been our practice to present first time speakers with an engraved tray as a token of appreciation. About the middle of the year our supply of trays dried up and we were obliged to give serious consideration to alternatives. These are now being given to earlier speakers who missed out on a tray.
Toward the end or 1981, the Group in Al Ain which has been inactive for some time, began to organise a fresh programme of talks and outings. We welcome this fresh upsurge of interest and look forward to continued close contact with our colleagues in Al Ain during the coming year.
Having been Chairman for two years, I feel it is time I let someone else have a turn. I should like to take this opportunity to record my appreciation for the support of my fellow committee members, who, by their enthusiasm and hard work, have made simple my task as Chairman. I should like in particular to thank those members of the committee who left us in the course of the year or are standing down now at the end of their term. We shall be particularly sorry to lose Annette Allen, who has been a member of the committee since the Group started. I should like too to thank the recorders. I believe theirs is the most important and most enduring part of the Group's work. I should like to thank all the ladies for their contributions behind the scenes. I must in particular mention Beth Brown and Diane Donohue. Last but not least, I should like to thank you, the members, for your support and interest which have kept this Group alive and flourishing.