"The emphasis on courtyard in Islamic architecture gave it the name of the "architecture of the veil', because it focuses on the inner spaces (courtyards and rooms) which are not visible from the outside. Courtyard housing is an architectural device with a long history first appearing in the buildings of Syria and Iraq three millennia ago. Arab nomads first made use of the concept of a courtyard during their travels and stay in the desert.They set up their tents around a central space, which provided shelter and security to their cattle."
Mahmoud Zein Alabidin
Image: Old Abu Dhabi http://www.abudhabi2.com/history/