Sultan Al Mansouri, Abdullah Al Shekaili, Abdullah Al Zubaidi, and Mohammed Maali represented the UAEU at the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on Contemporary Research (APCCR) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in November last year, to present their 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project.
Their research, Tourist Maps' Symbology in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was conducted under the supervision of CHSS Geography and Urban Planning Department Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Assistant Professor of Cartography, Dr Naeema Al Hosani, and Geography and Urban Planning Department Assistant Professor Dr Abul Salam Abdul Mannan. Their paper shone a light on the need for the standardization of map symbology in the UAE.
During their presentation, the researchers showed samples of tourist maps currently in use in the UAE, and displayed and described a series of cartographic symbols used in the various maps, produced by different organizations in the seven emirates.
Their methodology involved looking closely at visual variables, such as size, shape, and color, to compare the ways in which they are used in different tourist maps across the UAE. The results showed a lack of uniformity, in fact a lot of differences, in the ways tourism symbols are graphically represented on maps around the country. That this may be confusing for map users who are trying to understand and interpret the symbols while traveling from one part of the country to another was backed up by a questionnaire distributed to visiting tourists. Respondents expressed confusion at the variety of symbols used.
Dr Al Hosani said, “The students presented an important paper, which was admired by the audience, and the conference was very successful. This was a golden opportunity for our students to present on behalf of our department, our college, and our university at an international level. It was useful for them, as they learnt from the feedback from such a diverse audience. It was a great experience for the students, and the audience was very surprised at their performance. They thought the students were graduates!”
She added that the conference, an international forum for researchers, scientists, technologists and industry representatives who are experts in the field, was an ideal platform for our students to showcase the results of their work. It was a valuable learning experience for them, she said, to learn how to network with researchers and students with similar interests, and to learn from other findings being presented. It was also a chance to raise awareness across the globe of the presence of the UAEU as an important national research institution.