These wheat fields at the heart of the Arabian Deserts have fascinated me. What caught my attention to them is how interesting they look on the map. The circles of varying shapes and color intensity are like marbles scattered on the floor. I almost didn’t believe this picture at first. So much more when I researched and learned that these are actually wheat fields at the center of a desert! How could anyone grow vegetation in a desert? I thought only a cactus can survive there. And why in circular shape? As I read several articles about this, I became more interested than ever.
The wheat fields are actually Saudi Arabia’s way of boosting their economy. The kingdom sought of a way to improve their food supply (the land area is mostly desert land so no plants can grow) and eventually raise the economy. These fields are an answer to the country’s problem. The wheat fields are sustained using the technology called Axial Irrigation System. In simple terms, the water that it supplies to the crops flows out around an axis. The crops are planted in circular shape because at the center is the water source that rotates in order to sufficiently water the plants.
The radius of the circles will depend on how far the water source can extend its supply capacity. These wheat fields are scattered across Saudi and the one featured is just a portion located at Ash Shisiya. Saudi Arabia is 1,960,582 km? in surface area which is mainly composed of desert land. In fact, it contains the world’s largest continuous sand desert, the Rub Al-Khali. Therefore, sustaining vegetation is not that easy. The irrigation system they used is expensive but perhaps worth it because it increased the country’s wheat production by almost 50% in 5 years (Samirad, 2010).
Different Factors Affecting Geography Physical. This is a major factor that shaped this region’s geography. A land composed of mostly desert (only around 2% of total land area is fit for farming) will have difficulty in having independent food supply. They have to import from other countries basic food needs because they don’t have it themselves. This is perhaps the reason why the country first focused on its oil/gas exports so that they will earn money and have enough funds to buy food. As evidence, there are many oil plants in the country. Population.
The country has a population of approximately 28,686,633 in 2009 and has growth rate decreasing from 4. 2% (2003) to 1. 8%(2009). Population is mostly in its eastern and western coastal areas. With their need for food, a decrease in population is a positive thing for the Arabians. Most people live in urban areas and may have been aware that it is not easy acquiring food. Most people are Muslims and so they don’t import swine. The need for a wheat plantation is indeed necessary. Agriculture. Because the physical characteristics of the land don’t support for much agriculture, agricultural products are not the region’s main exports.
The need for additional food supply made possible the concepts of the wheat fields at the center of the desert. Political. Ash Shisiya, the place I featured is just one of the many wheat fields in Saudi. Saudi Arabia is under absolute monarchy until 1992 when the Saud royal family introduced the first constitution which is based on Islam law. Since politics is influenced by religion, their policies and laws should be in line to Islam. This means that there are no slaughter houses for pigs there (there law is against it) and there are many buildings for worship of Islam religion or what they call mosque.
Resources. The main resource of the country is oil. Since oil has become a major commodity in the world, Saudi exports this resource. It composes 40% of the country’s GDP, giving Saudi enough income to build infrastructure and even finance the wheat field irrigation. Since they have less agricultural resource, there is only limited plantation area in the country. Environment. Most of the nation’s landmass is desert so it is very hot. This is the reason why most of Saudi’s land area is uninhabited.
Its surrounding countries are also composed of desert land and are Muslim-populated. This may be an advantage because Saudi won’t have a problem relating to its neighbors. Urban. According to a statistics report, Riyadh (Saudi’s capital) is 43rd in the world’s fastest growing cities and 40th in the largest cities based on population between 2006 and 2020. This is good enough taking into consideration that the urban areas are very limited as mentioned earlier. However, this would mean that the cities there might be congested, given a high population and small land area.
Courtney from Study Moose