al-‘Ulā DPA Research Project: 2019-2024

 al-‘Ulā DPA Project: Ethnographic, genetic, and morphometric analyses of the date palm agrobiodiversity in al-‘Ulā oasis
 Principal investigators: Dr Vincent Battesti & Dr Muriel Gros-Balthazard

The oasis of al-‘Ulā, in the northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is at the center of an ambitious development project by the Saudi government. Al-‘Ulā is mainly an agricultural terroir. The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is the key plant of this complex man-made system: an essential part of the economy beyond sustenance. The touristic and economic development of the region will have an impact on urban areas and agriculture, and on the date palms in particular. A sustainable project hence requires an accurate assessment of the agrobiodiversity richness of the local date palms.

Here we propose a comprehensive estimation of al-‘Ulā date palm present and past diversity along with the understanding of its origins and evolution through time. The diversity of the date palm grown in the oasis al-‘Ulā seems particularly rich, with varieties unique to this oasis. An ethnobotanical survey will allow to better understand categorization and cultivation practices. Further, genomic and seed morphometric analyses of modern and ancient date palms will inform us on key aspects of the agrobiodiversity. Its provenance and transformation, from the beginning of date palm cultivation in al-‘Ulā till today, will hence be documented.

Beyond the characterization of local germplasm, this project will provide the knowledge that is fundamental to the sustainable development of the oasis. It will also inform conservation and breeding programs.

17/11/2023

Fourth-year Report—Dec. 2023. Ethnographic, genetic, and morphometric analyses of the date palm agrobiodiversity in al-‘Ulā oasis

Annual Report 2023
07/11/2023

Emergence and evolution of date palm cultivation in Northwestern Arabia

Lecture (in English) given for the international conference “Human-Environment Interactions in Ancient Arabia” (HEIAA), at the University of (…)
01/11/2023

Job offer at the CNRS: Technician for heritage collections at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle

Position starting: February 1, 2024. Application deadline: Nov. 23, 2023.
15/05/2023

Working list of named types of date palms cultivated in al-‘Ulā oasis (KSA)

Research report 2023 (in English).
23/11/2022

Third-year Report—Nov. 2022. Ethnographic, genetic, and morphometric analyses of the date palm agrobiodiversity in al-‘Ulā oasis

Annual Report 2022
10/10/2022

What lies behind a fruit crop variety name? A case study of the barnī date palm from al-‘Ulā oasis, Saudi Arabia

New ! Art. in Plants, People, Planet journal, special issue “Fruits in Focus” (2022)
17/07/2022

Project participants to al-‘Ulā DPA Project

Addition and convergence of scientific expertise for a research on the agrobiodiversity of date palms and their history in al-‘Ulā oasis in Saudi (…)
30/09/2021

Second-year Report—Sept. 2021. Ethnographic, genetic, and morphometric analyses of the date palm agrobiodiversity in al-‘Ulā oasis

Annual Report 2021
02/02/2021

Is Barnī, a date palm cultivated in the oasis of al-‘Ulā, a true-to-type cultivar or an ethnovariety? Arguments from ethnographic and genetic data,

Research Report 2021.
30/09/2020

First-year Report—Sept. 2020. Ethnographic, genetic, and morphometric analyses of the date palm agrobiodiversity in al-‘Ulā oasis

Annual Report 2020
15/05/2020

Date palm genetic and diversity: The case of al-‘Ulā oasis

Research Report 2020.
05/12/2019

PhD/ CNRS Doctoral contract offer: Origins and diversity of the Date Palm in al-‘Ulā Oasis, Saudi Arabia: a multidisciplinary approach combining Genomics, Ethnobotany and Archaeobiology

Effective date: February 1st, 2020. Application deadline: January 13th, 2020