Fishermen relied on astrological calendar

Old system tracked changes in plants and sea temperature.

Long before the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology was issuing daily forecasts, there was "aduroor", a complex formula to predict the weather that its supporters say is still surprisingly accurate.

Emirati farmers and fishermen would use aduroor to work out the best times to sow and harvest their crops, send their animals to pasture or put out to sea in their fishing boats.

The system is a combination of astrological calculations, fluctuations in sea temperatures and changes in vegetation growth in the deserts and mountains, according to Naser Mohammed Al Yamahi, a researcher from Fujairah who is creating his own aduroor calendar for use by future generations.

The calendar is based around the appearance of the star known as Soheil by the people of the Arabian peninsula. Also called Canopus, the star is the brightest in the southern hemisphere, and plays a significant role in cultures and mythology from Tibetans to Maoris. For the Bedouin tribes, it was a key navigational tool and one that also helped mark out a calendar, as opposed to the cycles of the Islamic lunar year, which constantly shifted.

For farmers, Mr Al Yamahi says, aduroor calendars enable them to identify which season they are in and predict changes in climate that will give them the best crops.

The name aduroor refers to groups of 10 days on which the calendar is based. Each "durr" - the singular of aduroor - is followed by another and numbered and named successively for reference as "tens", "twenties", "thirties", with the annual cycle continuing in the hundreds.

Mr Al Yamahi says that when trying to forecast weather - such as this week's unexpected cold snap - aduroor can be a powerful tool.

"After I have used it carefully for years, I noticed that climate and weather changes have met the calendar's forecast," he says.

"When the calendar indicates the beginning of summer, we, the people who live in the east coast, feel that the seawater becomes warmer, plants start to change and flowers begin to bloom in mountains and valleys."