The United Arab Emirates is situated in the Arabian Gulf, bordering Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is a federation of seven independent emirates, formed in 1971, and each is ruled by a local Sheikh and his family. It is an Islamic country, ruled by Shariah law. The largest emirate is Abu Dhabi, which is the location of the capital city. The citizen population of the emirate is in the region of 439,000, with expatriat workers and their families estimated at 1,681,700. In 2011 there was an estimated combined total of 368,500 children between the ages of 0 and 14 years.
This research study set out to evaluate the opinions of professionals on existing mental health provisions for children in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and to establish the need, if any, for the inclusion of Play Therapy as part of those
The opinions of the target group of ten professionals working with children were obtained using semi-structured interviews. These revealed that participants were of the opinion that mental health services to children were insufficient in the emirate of Abu Dhabi and that there was uniform support for a play therapy service within the existing provision. The cultural and
religious context is important in consideration of a play therapy service in Abu Dhabi and this should be grounded in an understanding of Islamic and societal influences.