SOCIAL MEDIA FUELS A MORE REFINED IMAGE OF RUWAIS
There is much more to this Western Region town than just oil and gas
It is a social media handle that you might not have seen, but Ruwais Pulse has quietly accumulated about 7,620 followers on Twitter and 6,000 on Facebook.
It’s the social media arm of ruwais.ae, a website dedicated to promoting the town that is home to a sprawling oil and gas complex in Al Dhafra.
The Twitter feed mainly posts formal news and updates about Ruwais, while the Facebook account is more fun and community based. Street scenes, portraits of nature and snaps of the weather all feature.
It was the lack of coverage about his town that led Emirati Abdulla Alshehi to set up the website in 2012.
“A lot of people here couldn’t find information about the city on the internet,” said Mr Alshehi, who works for Adnoc and was in Ruwais from 2001 until 2013.
“Not only Ruwais, the Western Region of Abu Dhabi is not really covered by the media and it does not get the attention it deserves. There is so much industry, scenery and nature.
“Maybe it’s the distance, or the fact the road was not good until a couple of years ago.”
Ruwais is about 240 kilometres west of Abu Dhabi. The industrial and housing complex was developed from the 1970s by Adnoc, and features oil refineries, fertiliser plants and petrochemical units.
The vast housing complex also has its own shops, mosque and banking. People from around the world work there.
But feelings that Ruwais and the region are sometimes forgotten are common. The town’s first shopping mall only opened in 2014.
Al Dhafra Golf Club, which opened in 1988, is a sand course and to this day remains the only public golf course in Al Dhafra and is run entirely by volunteers.
Last year, there were concerns it could close and members said that the club was a public service and would be a big loss to the community.
“It serves the community,” Geert Saman, the Belgian club captain said at the time.
“Ruwais is such a remote area. The only thing here is the hotel and the golf club, and that’s why we opened the club to non-members. It’s like a big family.”
Al Dhafra, formerly called the Western Region, is rich in history. The Baniyas tribe lived in Liwa before settling Abu Dhabi Island and it is where tourists visit to experience the desert beauty of the Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter.
But the region is also looking to the future. The first nuclear reactor of the UAE’s Barakah atomic plant is due to begin operation next year. Al Dhafra is also home to the country’s first railway. Etihad Rail began operation in 2015, taking sulphur from the Shah and Habshan gasfields to Ruwais for processing.
Mr Alshehi is from Abu Dhabi and is now back in the capital. But that doesn’t mean he has forgotten about Ruwais. He still oversees the operation, a webmaster takes care of online, while a freelance photographer occasionally takes pictures of the town.
“So many people interact with Ruwais Pulse, particularly on Facebook,” he said.
Members of the public send photographs and other content to publish. During recent rainfall, shots taken by Ruwais residents appeared on the website.
“People can get to know each other and their own community,” he said.
“We have Sir Bani Yas Island. It’s quite close and is a nature reserve. We have the desert and the sea – marine wildlife is very rich. It’s a very unique area that needs to be given attention.”
Above and far left, views of Ruwais. Left, Al Ruwais refinery complex